Ford faces lawsuit claiming it used 'mileage cheat device'

Suit concerns fuel economy of Ranger, other vehicles

Ford is currently under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for its emissions certification process. Additionally, a class-action lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court, alleging that Ford deceived customers about the mileage of its 2019 Ranger midsize pickup along with other vehicles.

The lawsuit claims that Ford "deliberately miscalculated and misrepresented factors used in vehicle certification testing." It also says that the process "includes a mileage cheat device."

We've asked Ford for its response and comment concerning the lawsuit. Here's the company's statement: "We haven't been served with this complaint yet. When we are, we'll review it and respond appropriately."

Ford has previously said the matter does not involve the use of defeat devices and that a company investigation found it had used no such device to fool emissions testing. The lawsuit filed by law firm Hagens Berman, however, alleges something slightly different in a "mileage cheat device." They claim Ford programmed the vehicle's computers "with a mileage cheat device to continue to lie about the vehicle's fuel economy in order to continually conceal the misrepresentation." In other words, the lawsuit claims the dashboard readout is inaccurate.

Hagens Berman alleges Ford deliberately miscalculated road testing factors during its fuel economy tests, so it could report that its vehicles were more efficient than they actually were. For clarification, manufacturers are responsible for testing and rating fuel economy and emissions in their own vehicles. The EPA does review those results and confirms approximately 15 to 20 percent through their own testing.

Ford previously notified the EPA that it had hired an outside firm to investigate its fuel economy and testing procedures. Some of the items under scrutiny are the "road load" specifications used for testing. If the road load (forces acting on the vehicle such as aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance, etc.) is too light, it could result in better fuel economy than stated. As of today, Ford hasn't released any results from the external investigation.

The law firm filing suit previously worked cases on Toyota's unintended acceleration and Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal.

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