in 2013 and 2014 made downward fuel-economy revisions to most of its hybrid vehicles.
Ford C-Max hybrid ratings lowered twice in past year.
’s U.S. hybrid sales are holding up reasonably well following two downward revisions to fuel-economy ratings.
The first adjustment came in August 2013 in response to consumer complaints that real-world fuel economy fell short of the EPA ratings.
In response,lowered the ratings for the ’13 C-Max hybrid from 47 mpg (5.0 L/100 km) combined city/highway to 43 mpg (5.4 L/100 km) combined. The problem stemmed from Ford placing the same fuel-economy rating on the C-Max as the Fusion hybrid. Although the two share powertrains, the Fusion is more aerodynamic, resulting in the discrepancy.
In addition to the downgrade, the automaker also made a series of software changes to better the C-Max’s fuel-economy performance.
The most recent revision occurred in June 2014 and lowered the fuel-economy ratings of six vehicles, including the ’13-’14 Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and the Lincoln MKZ hybrid. The issue was caused by an error in internal fuel-economy testing, the automaker says.
In most of the models involved, fuel-economy ratings dropped by 1-2 mpg (100-50 km/L). The largest discrepancy was with the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, which saw its EPA rating drop 7 mpg (14.2 km/L), from a previously combined rating of 45 mpg (5.2 L/100 km) to 38 mpg (6.1 L/100 km).
To ease consumer dissatisfaction, Ford made goodwill payments to customers for the estimated average fuel costs of the difference in fuel economy, with payouts ranging from $150 to $1,050, depending on whether the vehicle was leased or purchased.
Following the second adjustment, many industry observers predicted Ford hybrid sales would take a hit, noting consumers in the segment are particularly focused on EPA ratings.
Ford spokesman Aaron Miller says the automaker has not experienced a drop-off in hybrid sales, noting early June was one of the Ford’s best months ever for hybrid deliveries.
“Our marketing team reported that current owners of those (affected) vehicles did not become dissatisfied,” Miller tells WardsAuto. “I believe that the goodwill payments made to our customers helped a lot.”
Following the first downgrade, C-Max hybrid sales slipped quite a bit, from 2,411 units in August 2013 to 1,424 in September, according to WardsAuto data. That downward trend continued into January 2014 when U.S. deliveries were only 947, before sales rebounded to 1,301 in February. Deliveries have increased nearly every month since.
Lincoln MKZ hybrid deliveries fell from 791 in August 2013 to 619 in September. However, they also bounced back, jumping to 852 in November 2013. Fusion hybrid sales experienced a similar result, plunging from 3,694 units in August to 2,265 in September 2013.
The second fuel-economy adjustment in June resulted in no drop-off for the C-Max. Rather, sales rose from 1,952 that month to 2,163 in July. Lincoln MKZ hybrid deliveries didn’t fare as well, as deliveries fell from 787 units in June to just 638 in July. Fusion sales in June were 3,016, dropping to 2,851 in July.
“We will of course monitor over the next few months, but so far the later part of this year has proven to be great sales-wise for our hybrids,” Miller says.
Despite the adjustments and sales fluctuations, Ford’s overall U.S. hybrid sales were up 2.5% through July to 35,316. Total U.S. industry hybrid sales were up slightly more, 2.9%, through the same period.