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Ford lowers C-Max rating to 43 mpg, will reimburse owners

by Andrew Ganz

Ford has admitted that its C-Max hybrid\'s fuel economy was overstated on its window sticker.

Citing discrepancies in the EPA's testing procedures, Ford Motor Company has lowered the advertised economy figure for its five-door C-Max Hybrid to 43 mpg combined from the 47 mpg it previously advertised.

The 43 mpg figure (45 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway) will apply to 2013 models of the C-Max Hybrid; a handful of changes are being made to 2014 models, but Ford says it is not ready to release fuel economy figures for those yet.

To apologize to current C-Max owners and lessees, Ford says it will provide a "goodwill payment." Owners will receive $550, while those who leased their C-Maxes will be given $325.

The problem

Earlier this year, the Michigan-based automaker was subjected to a flurry of consumer and media complaints after launching its C-Max after owners claimed that the advertised 47 mpg figure was not attainable.

Ford says that it followed EPA regulations by testing only the Ford Fusion Hybrid, which uses the same engine and transmission as the C-Max Hybrid. EPA regulations, Ford says, require automakers to only test what they anticipate will be the highest volume version of a vehicle within the same "family."

Even though the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid don't share underpinnings or bodies, Ford chose to group the two together when testing them under the EPA guidelines

As a result, Ford says it is not planning to alter the fuel economy rating of the Fusion Hybrid, which will remain rated at 47 mpg in the city, on the highway and combined.

Similarly, Ford says it is sticking to fuel economy figures for its plug-in hybrids, the C-Max Energi and the Fusion Energi. Because it anticipated that the C-Max Energi would be the bigger seller of the two, it applied the same 44 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 43 mpg combined figures to both models.

... and the fix (for 2014)

Ford is making a number of changes to the 2014 model year version of its C-Max that it says will improve fuel economy. Set to go on sale in December, the 2014 model year's fuel economy figures won't be announced until later.

Ford is not planning to retrofit the changes to 2013 C-Max Hybrids. Through the first seven months of 2013, Ford has sold 23,040 C-Max models including both the standard hybrid and the Energi plug-in.

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