The Economy

Ford Probing Problems With Fuel Economy Claims

Ford hired outside experts to investigate its vehicle fuel economy and testing procedures after employees raised concerns.
Lauren MuskettFebruary 22, 2019
Ford Probing Problems With Fuel Economy Claims

Ford Motor Company said it has hired outside investigators to examine its vehicle fuel economy and testing procedures. The move comes after employees, last fall, raised concerns the automaker relied on incorrect calculations used to translate test results into the mileage and emissions data submitted to regulators.

Kimberly Pittel, Ford’s group vice president for sustainability, environment, and safety engineering, told Reuters the company was not looking into the use of defeat devices — hardware and software designed deliberately to deceive government emissions tests.

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Pittel said the company voluntarily shared information with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board this week.

“We cannot predict the outcome, and cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us,” Ford said in a regulatory filing Thursday.

In a statement, the EPA said the information from Ford is too incomplete for it to reach any conclusions.

“We take the potential issues seriously and are following up with the company to fully understand the circumstances behind this disclosure,” regulators said.

In 2013, Ford had to adjust the stated mileage of its C-Max hybrid following complaints that its claims were off by seven miles per gallon. It lowered fuel economy ratings for fix other models the next year.

Pittel said Ford has begun with testing of its 2019 Ranger pickup truck and that it expects to have data back next week.

“At Ford, we believe that trust in our brand is earned by acting with integrity and transparency,” the company said in a statement. “As always, we strive to be transparent with our customers, employees, dealers, shareholders, and other stakeholders. We understand how important it is to all audiences that we thoroughly yet swiftly complete this investigation.”

Ford hired the law firm Sidley Austin to lead the investigation. The company said it has also retained independent experts and will be using an outside lab throughout the process.

“We are going to go where the investigation takes us,” Pittel said.