Ford Motor Company is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for practices that may overestimate expected mileage and fuel efficiency, resulting in higher costs for consumers.
Ford Motor Company Under DOJ Investigation for Fuel Economy
The Ford Motor Company has disclosed that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the automaker’s practices for testing and reporting fuel economy. This comes after employee discoveries forced the company to open an internal investigation and inform the Environmental Protection Agency of possible fuel economy misstatements.
This problem currently affects only the 2019 Ford Ranger but an investigation of fuel efficiency statements of other Ford vehicles is underway.
Fuel Economy Calculations Overstated
Expected vehicle mileage (mpg) ratings or fuel economy estimates are formulated from expected “road load” which calculates a measurement of how much force a vehicle is under. Factors of tire resistance, aerodynamic drag, and other results of friction. Better fuel economy means lower emissions and customers will often pay a premium for automobiles which have higher mileage expectations and produce less pollution. Ford has stated that their computer modeling may be at fault.
The first disclosure came in February when the company opened an internal investigation after an employee had discovered that the company had been miscalculating road load and notified the Environmental Protection Agency. They were notified in March that the DOJ had opened a criminal investigation. The company has stated that the DOJ investigation is still in preliminary stages but they are fully cooperating with investigators.
Seeger Weiss is investigating claims that Ford deceptively advertised the 2019 Ford Ranger pickup trucks as “best-in-class” fuel economy trucks. This may have encouraged consumers to purchase Ford Rangers rather than other vehicles and to pay a higher price but independent testing has revealed that vehicles are not as efficient as promised.
Ford Marketing Automobiles as Best In Class Fuel Economy
Ford began marketing Ranger pickup trucks again for the 2019 model season after discontinuing the line in 2011. It is intended for the “mid-size” truck market after the flagship F-150 has gotten larger and more expensive. Mid-size market includes Honda Ridgeline which is a primary competitor and the model used in advertising to state Ford Ranger’s “best in class” fuel efficiency.
This is not the first problem with mileage ratings that Ford has faced. In 2013, the automaker had to reduce stated fuel economy for the C-Max hybrid after complaints revealed it was much less fuel efficient than stated and in 2014, the company was forced to lower ratings on six automobile models. Each time, Ford has provided compensation to consumers for increased fuel costs.
Though internal reevaluations have started with the 2019 Ford Ranger, the problems may extend to other vehicles. The company has stated that they have hired an independent agency to conduct further testing. Ford has characterized DOJ investigation as being in “preliminary stages” and DOJ has declined to comment.
If you own or lease a 2019 Ford Ranger and feel you were misled, you may be eligible for compensation.