We were not the only ones to have trouble reaching 47 miles per gallon in the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid. A lot of people did, and complained about it. Ford heard those messages, and today officially announced it is lowering the official EPA mpg number for the car from 47 across the board to 43 mpg combined, 45 in the city and 40 on the highway.

To make it up to C-Max buyers, Ford will issue rebates. The amount isn't much – $550 to buyers, $325 to lessees – but it is better than nothing. In a conference call with reporters, Ford's Raj Nair, group vice president for global product development, said he did not know the total amount the rebate would cost Ford, but that 32,000 C-Max Hybrids have been sold, so that means the number paid out to customers will be somewhere between $10.4 and $17.6 million.

The reason that the C-Max got such a high, inaccurate number is because of something called the general label rule. Nair said:

These general label rules date back to the 1970s and they were created by the EPA to provide a means to generate fuel economy labels without having to test every single vehicle in the industry, which would have been impractical. The rules work like this: automakers generate a fuel economy label for a family of vehicles that share common characteristics, such as the engine and transmission and weight class. Tests of the projected highest sales configuration within that family, as specified by the EPA rules, are used to generate the general label.

The general label rules are a standard means of generating a fuel economy label and they are the source of most mpg label stickers on the road today. So, we used the general label rules to generate the fuel economy label for the C-Max Hybrid. The label was initially based on testing of the Fusion Hybrid, which was the highest volume vehicle as defined by the rules. This is why the C-Max's 47 miles per gallon label was the same as the Fusion Hybrid's 47 mpg label.

Given that the real-world results for the C-Max are so much lower, Ford decided to take another look at it and, voila, 43 mpg. So far as we can tell, no changes will be made to the 47-mpg rating of the Fusion Hybrid. Official press releases from Ford and the EPA are available below.
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  • 2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid on sale later this year is upgraded with new transmission gearing and enhanced aerodynamics to further improve fuel efficiency performance
  • Ford voluntarily changing its approach to C-MAX Hybrid fuel economy labeling going forward to better match performance and improve customer satisfaction
  • Label changes will result in a lower 2013 C-MAX Hybrid miles-per-gallon label – though still class-leading and a better combined label than the Toyota Prius v; current C-MAX Hybrid owners will receive a goodwill payment for the difference
  • Customer demand for C-MAX Hybrid remains very strong, with two-thirds of buyers from imports; C-MAX Hybrid helps drive Ford to best quarterly hybrid U.S. sales ever
  • Underscoring its commitment to fuel economy leadership, Ford Motor Company today said it is upgrading the 2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid, which will go on sale in December. The company also is changing the way it tests and labels the 2013 C-MAX Hybrid for fuel economy to better match performance and improve customer satisfaction.
The upgrades build on powertrain software updates Ford announced last month for the 2013 C-MAX Hybrid. The 2014 C-MAX also will benefit from several hardware changes, including:
  • Gearing changes that result in a more efficient transmission drive ratio
  • New hood seal, front and rear tire deflectors, A-pillar moldings and the addition of rear lift gate deflectors to improve vehicle aerodynamics
  • New engine oil with reduced friction
  • The enhancements to the 2014 C-MAX Hybrid are expected to improve customers' on-road fuel economy, especially at highway speeds.
"Ford is absolutely committed to being a leader in the hybrid market and to top fuel efficiency across our lineup," said Raj Nair, group vice president, global product development. "We are taking actions with our popular C-MAX Hybrid so that customers are even more satisfied with the vehicle's on-road fuel efficiency performance."

The variability of on-road fuel economy is greater for hybrids than for conventional vehicles. Relatively small differences in driver behavior and driving conditions can have a significant effect on the degree to which a hybrid's gasoline engine is used for propulsion, which affects fuel efficiency.

Changes to C-MAX Hybrid fuel economy labeling process
In addition to improving the vehicle itself, Ford is changing the way it generates the miles-per-gallon label for C-MAX Hybrid going forward. Previously – and consistent with EPA's General Label rules – testing of the Fusion Hybrid was used to generate fuel economy labels for a family of vehicles, including both Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid. The result was the same fuel economy label values for both vehicles.

While the company could continue to use EPA's General Label for C-MAX Hybrid, Ford voluntarily has decided to test and label C-MAX Hybrid separately going forward. The result will be a lower miles-per-gallon label for the 2013 C-MAX Hybrid. Testing to generate a label for the 2014 C-MAX Hybrid is not yet complete.

The revised 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid label will carry a class-leading EPA combined fuel economy value of 43 mpg – topping the combined label value of 42 mpg for the Toyota Prius v.

Because this voluntary step results in miles-per-gallon values different from the original C-MAX Hybrid label, Ford also is making a goodwill payment to current C-MAX Hybrid owners for the estimated average fuel cost of the difference between the two labels. Customers who purchased their vehicle will receive a check from Ford for $550. Customers who leased their vehicle will receive a check for $325.

Existing customers will be notified by mail, and Ford is working with dealers to re-label vehicles on dealer lots. Customers with questions can contact the Ford Customer Relationship Center at http://corporate.ford.com/owner-services/customer-support/contact-ford, or +1-800-392-3673.

Strong C-MAX customer reaction
Customer response to Ford C-MAX is strong. In fact, C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid are driving record U.S. electrified vehicle sales. Ford sold 53,014 electrified vehicles through July – 392 percent higher than a year ago. Two-thirds of buyers are coming from imports.

In addition, the latest J.D. Power APEAL study shows C-MAX Hybrid is scoring high with customers. Engine responsiveness, smoothness, passing power/acceleration, interior quietness and visibility all rank significantly higher than the segment average. Customers also report C-MAX is "more luxurious" and "more innovative," as well as more environmentally friendly.

Ford's electrified vehicle market share through the first seven months of this year is 15.4 percent -- a 12-point increase compared with the same period last year.

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 177,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information about Ford and its products worldwide please visit www.corporate.ford.com.

EPA Announces Revised Fuel Economy Label Estimates for 2013 Ford C-Max; Initiates Effort to Update Labeling Procedures to Keep Pace with Industry Trends

WASHINGTON – As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) commitment to ensuring consumers are given accurate fuel economy values, the agency is revising estimates for the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, and announcing plans for updating its fuel economy labeling regulations to ensure that the requirements keep pace with industry trends and innovations in advanced high-efficiency vehicles. Ford is voluntarily re-labeling the vehicles with these new values.

EPA tested the C-Max after receiving consumer complaints that the vehicle did not achieve the label values of 47 miles per gallon (mpg) for highway, city, and combined driving. The new fuel economy estimates for Ford 2013 C-Max are 43 mpg combined, 45 mpg city, and 40 mpg highway. Fuel economy estimates are found on the Fuel Economy and Environment window sticker of new vehicles, as well as on www.fueleconomy.gov, the U.S. government source for fuel economy information.

Developed in 1977, EPA label regulations allow, but do not require, vehicles with the same engine, transmission and weight class to use the same fuel economy label value data, since, historically, such vehicle families achieve nearly identical fuel economy performance. Ford based the 2013 Ford C-Max label on testing of the related Ford Fusion hybrid, which has the same engine, transmission and test weight as allowed under EPA regulations. For the vast majority of vehicles this approach would have yielded a more accurate label value for the car, but these new vehicles are more sensitive to small design differences than conventional vehicles because advanced highly efficient vehicles use so little fuel.

To date, most high-efficiency hybrids have been used in a single vehicle design and therefore do not have this issue. The Ford hybrid family is one of two examples in the industry where advanced technology vehicles with the same engine, transmission and hybrid components are used across multiple vehicle designs. EPA regulations allow but do not require automakers to generate a label for each design in this circumstance. With the new Ford C-Max label, each vehicle design within the two high-efficiency hybrid families now has its own label.

Looking forward, EPA expects to see greater use of common high efficiency systems across multiple vehicles by manufacturers in order to improve quality and reduce manufacturing costs. EPA welcomes this emerging trend and will be working with consumer advocates, environmental organizations and auto manufacturers, to propose revised fuel economy labeling regulations to ensure that consumers are consistently given the accurate fuel economy information on which they have come to rely.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/data.htm

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