State of Charge: Fuel economy restatement of six Ford models highlights folly of Energuide’s ‘Twilight Zone’ automotive technology green scene ford auto articles auto consumer info
Updated fuel economy estimates for various Ford vehicles from NRCan. Click image to enlarge

Article by Michael Bettencourt, photo by Lesley Wimbush

It’s a case of déjà vu all over again for Ford and its optimistic fuel consumption numbers, this time including hybrid and plug-in hybrid changes – and more like encore déjà vu for the C-Max Hybrid. Ford restated its fuel consumption figures for six models in June (’14 Fiesta 1.6 and 1.0, plus the ’13 and ’14 C-Max Hybrid and plug-in Energi, Fusion Hybrid and Energi, plus the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid), acknowledging their widely advertised figures for these models were too low. This is the second downward revision for the C-Max Hybrid, as Ford first restated its consumption numbers in 2013.

Ford argued then that the numbers weren’t a mistake, but that the EPA rules allowed it to use numbers generated from fuel efficiency testing with the Ford Fusion Hybrid under the EPA’s ‘general label’ rule for vehicles with similar drivetrains and weights. Still, the company “voluntarily” restated the numbers, and provided $895 to Canadian C-Max owners, and $595 to lessees as compensation. For this latest restatement, Ford will send C-Max Hybrid owners a further C$725 cheque ($475 for lessees), for a grand sum of C$1,620 in total, this time admitting there were mistakes made on Ford’s part in calculating the EPA figures for all six of these vehicles.

These revised numbers are downgraded using the more real-world relevant U.S. five-cycle testing, a system that Canada is ironically moving towards for 2015 dealer labels, but which the U.S. adopted way back in 2008. So for Canadian owners, the fuel economy numbers Ford advertised here were even more optimistic than in the US, since Canada is only now transitioning from the older two-cycle (city and highway) testing regimen, to the more stringent but still fallible five-cycle EPA system.

Ford of Canada says its payments are higher north of the border because of the higher price of fuel here. Over 13,000 Canadian owners will receive cheques, with apologies from Ford of Canada, according to the company. The largest refund in Canada will go to Lincoln MKZ Hybrid buyers, at $1,800, which saw its stated fuel consumption increase from 4.2 L/100 km to 5.2 L/100 km overall (see chart here for restated differences and payments for each model).

Of course, what makes all the revised numbers truly ironic is that Canada is finally moving towards the EPA five-cycle system, even when all these Ford restatements are once again exposing its flaws. Even worse, this aligned five-cycle system for 2015 model year vehicles will mean that all vehicles in Canada will be revised again come this fall, including these Fords, or whenever each company releases its latest 2015 model year figures.

So that revised 5.2 L/100 km average on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid? Natural Resources Canada website estimates its ’15 average will be closer to 6.3. The Fusion Hybrid that won the Canadian Green Car award in 2013 with an official average of 4.0 L/100 km, and was recently marked back to 4.5 in June? That car will average closer to 5.5 for 2015. That C-Max Hybrid average restated (again) to 4.9 L/100 km? NRCan predicts its 2015 figure average will be about 6.0 L/100 km, using the more stringent five-cycle EPA method.

Yet Ford of Canada’s consumer website still prominently highlights these 2014 restated figures, even though the Canadian government has published estimated 2015 figures already (see the revised Ford estimates here). As of early July, if you try Ford of Canada’s online comparison tool, the third party info it pulls up still displays outdated 2014 figures.

Granted, all vehicle figures will be lower in 2015, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, estimates the government, even in vehicles unchanged under the hood. It’s all part of an outdated fuel consumption game between Canadian automakers that’s finally dying, but still kicking and scrapping for green car sales over the last few months of model year 2014.

Related Articles:
Analysis: Natural Resources Canada’s 2015 Fuel Consumption Revisions
State of Charge: Tim Hortons Installs Charging Stations, and Latest Plug-In News
Test Drive: 2014 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL

Manufacturer’s Website:
Ford Canada

Unfortunately for Ford, 2015 will mark the third straight model year in which Ford will state progressively worse fuel consumption figures for the C-Max Hybrid in Canada – yes, one downgrade for every year it has been available in this country. It’s still one of the most efficient family vehicles on the market, just not quite as efficient as the Toyota Prius V it originally targeted in its ads.

Canadians shopping for a new vehicle are therefore in a fuel consumption ‘twilight zone,’ whether they know it or not. Official Canadian fuel economy labels will restate one seriously flawed set of numbers with newer, more accurate – or at least less flawed – 2015 figures. At least for the next few months, current 2014 Canadian figures will mean little to anyone: unless one’s lucky enough to receive a Ford cheque because of them.

Ford Canada Canadian Fuel Consumption Label Ratings and Goodwill Payments* (June 12, ’14)
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised Label
L/100 km (Fuel Consumption)
City/Highway/Combined
Previous Label
L/100 km (Fuel Consumption)
City/Highway/Combined
Lease Customers Purchase
Customers
2014 Fiesta 1.0L GTDI M/T 6.3 / 4.5 / 5.5 6.2 / 4.3 / 5.3 $250 $375
1.6L A/T 7.3 / 5.4 / 6.5 7.0 / 5.0 / 6.1 $475 $725
1.6L M/T 7.4 / 5.3 / 6.5 7.4 / 5.2 / 6.4 $125 $175
1.6L GTDI M/T 7.7 / 5.7 / 6.8 7.8 / 5.6 / 6.8 Combined L/100 km not affected Combined L/100 km not affected
2013-14
C-MAX Hybrid 4.5** / 5.3 / 4.9 4.2 / 4.9 / 4.5 $475 $725
Fusion Hybrid 4.3 / 4.7 / 4.5 4.0 / 4.1 / 4.0 $600 $925
MKZ Hybrid 5.1 / 5.3 / 5.2 4.2 / 4.3 / 4.2 $1,200 $1,800
Model Year Vehicle Powertrain Revised
Combined for
(Gas or Le)/ Range
Previous
Combined for
(Gas or Le)/ Range
Lease Customers Purchase Customers
2013-14
C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid 5.0 L/100 km or 2.2 Le; 40 km range 4.5 L/100 km or 1.9 Le; 43 km range $600 $925
Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid 5.0 L/100 km or 2.2 Le; 40 km range 4.5 L/100 km or 1.9 Le; 43 km range $600 $925
* Bolded figures in the above chart represent the values used to determine the customer goodwill payment.
**C-MAX Hybrid-2014 Model Year fuel consumption rating for City is 4.6L/100 km. The C-MAX Hybrid 2014-Model Year fuel consumption combined rating is 4.9L/100 km so the customer payment is the same for the 2013-Model Year and the 2014-Model Year C-MAX
† Le is L/100 km equivalent
Connect with Autos.ca