Ford hybrids facing lawsuit for failing to deliver advertised 47 mpg

Article by Anita Panait, on April 25, 2013

Ford Motor Co. is facing a suit in United States District Court in Philadelphia filed by Pennsylvania vehicle owners who claim that the carmaker’s hybrid models failed to deliver promised fuel-efficiency numbers. According to a complaint filed Tuesday, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford C-Max Hybrid models provide worse fuel economy than the advertised figure of 47 miles per gallon.

Car owners alleged that inaccurate representations allowed Ford to falsely claim that those models outperformed rival models. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are “some of the tens of thousands of consumers” who bought a Fusion Hybrid or C-Max Hybrid, only to be stuck with underperforming and less valuable vehicles that impose higher fuel costs on owners.

The Ford Fusion was the sixth best-selling model in the US in the first three quarters of 2013. In March, Fusion was being sold faster and at higher prices than the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.

Ford advertised the hybrid version of the Fusion as having several of the same features as luxury cars like Mercedes C350, but with double the fuel economy and a sticker price of less than $17,000. Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman, told Bloomberg News in an e-mail that the carmaker’s fuel economy labels are generated in accordance with EPA procedures and protocols.

The complaint said Ford knew or should have known that the hybrid versions of the C-Max and Fusion don’t deliver advertised fuel ratings. The complaint also said that Ford uses a “driveability” test facility to simulate real-world conditions, adding that the Fusion and C-Max hybrids were also equipped with a SmartGauge on-board computer that displays current fuel economy.

In coming out with the new Fusion, the design team at Ford element focused on five important elements. The first is that it has to have a new face given that this model is projected to be the next phase of evolution as it relates to the global design language of the brand for midsize cars and even smaller. Second is that the surface language needed to be refined.

The new Fusion would need to show that when it comes to a well-executed design, visual clutter or even add-ons is never needed. For the third element, it refers to the perceived efficiency. The use of the character lines which sweep to the rear section paired with the thin roof pillars give a hint to the agility of this model and how light it is on its feet.

Fourth is all about technical graphics. According to Ford, the Fusion has a number of functional design elements that include the Led tail lamps and the polished exhaust tips in the rear and the headlamps in the front. With this, the Fusion is able to express better the improved technological capability. Finally, there is that innovation on its silhouette.

Indeed, the profile is sleek and by following the “three-box” powertrain/cabin/trunk design, it is able to stand apart from the usual midsize sedans. Chris Hamilton, who was the Chief Exterior Designer for this model, revealed that the previous generation of the Fusion was an easy choice for many customers as the purchase was easily rationalized.

When it came to designing this next-generation model, he added, the goal was to make sure that mainstream sedan customers would be able to have a top-drawer visual experience. He continued by saying that this also gives an added emotional appeal to what is already considered as a practical option. On the interior, the environment has been made more athletic and focused more towards the driver.

With the next-generation seating though, the functionality already available has been expanded. Supporting the driver-focused theme is the center console which has been placed in a higher position. This also results in an excellent storage space especially for things that the driver wants within reach.

Topics: ford, hybrid, lawsuit

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