Ford Motor Co. [NYSE: F] has caught an error in its calculations for EPA fuel economy for several of its small-car, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid models, and it's moving to correct that not just on window stickers, but financially, with owners of the approximately 200,000 affected vehicles.

The issue concerns fuel economy numbers that were calculated in a laboratory setting, not in real-world testing. But it does reflect and remedy some widespread complaints with some of these vehicles—namely the Ford C-Max—that they weren't returning numbers close enough to their EPA ratings.

Ford global product development chief Raj Nair explained that the error relates to the improper measurement of something called Total Road Load Horsepower, which is a resistance level used in the lab testing for determining fuel economy ratings. The automaker also erroneously factored in an aerodynamic error in 'virtual' wind-tunnel testing of an engineering model.

“This is our mistake”

“So this is our mistake, plain and simple, and we apologize,” said Nair, referring to the remedies the company is making.

First, Ford has notified the EPA and identified the affected vehicles. It's retested those models and has arrived at revised ratings for them.

The automaker determined the cause of the issue in March, and has been working since then, with the EPA, to retest vehicles.

Separately, Ford will make goodwill payments to owners of approximately 200,000 affected vehicles for the difference between the previous and revised ratings. The amounts range from $200 to $1,050 for owners or $125 to $625 to lessees.

In a media conference, Ford would not comment on the anticipated cost of the consumer campaign, or the cost of the testing error to the company. Although Ford has been working with the EPA toward a quick remedy, a fine can't be ruled out. 

Nearly ten percent of EV range lost on plug-ins

Affected models include the 2014 Ford Fiesta (all but ST), 2013-2014 Ford C-Max, 2013-2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid, and 2013-2014 Lincoln MKX Hybrid. It also applies to the 2013-2014 Ford C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi, and has the noteworthy effect of cutting two miles—or roughly ten percent—off their all-electric range (to 19 miles, from 21).

Here's the chart, directly from Ford, on all the changes:

For more information on the vehicles affected or when you'll be getting your 'goodwill payment,' call the Ford Customer Relationship Center at 866-436-7332, or go to Ford's MPG site.


(c) 2014, High Gear Media.