Ford Motor Company is being sued over allegedly false fuel economy ratings in its 2017-2019 F-150 and Ranger pickup trucks, the latter of which the automaker claims to be the “most fuel-efficient gas-powered midsize pickup in America.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that all cars and trucks under 10,000 lbs. display fuel economy information on a sticker upon going up for sale, the case explains. The EPA also sets the standards for testing fuel economy. Though the EPA retains the right to audit an economy test, the tests themselves are performed by the manufacturers, the complaint says.
According to the case, Ford lists the Ranger’s fuel economy at 21 miles per gallon (mpg) city and 26 mpg highway when configured as a 4x2 truck. The lawsuit claims, however, that at least one independent test found the Ranger’s highway mileage to be just 19.5 miles per gallon on average. This, the case claims, amounts to a bad deal for consumers. From the complaint:
“The fuel economy of the 2019 Ford Ranger advertised by Ford has not been consistent with reports by independent third parties and consumers. For example, after taking the 2019 Ford Ranger on a 1,000-mile road trip, one automobile writer reported an average of 19.5 miles per gallon while on the highway…The discrepancy between the fuel economy numbers promulgated by Ford and those reported by consumers will likely cost consumers thousands of dollars more in fuel costs over the life of Class Vehicles and result in increased vehicle pollution—neither of which was bargained for by consumers at the time of purchase.”
The discrepancy in mileage allegedly stems from an issue in Ford’s “road load” testing, which helps calculate fuel economy ratings that are later sent to the EPA. Road load, the suit says, is a “vehicle-specific resistance level” that is based in part on data from “coastdown tests” wherein a vehicle is brought up to a high speed on a flat, level road, put into neutral, and then allowed to coast to a stop. Data from this test is used to determine resistive properties of a car like air-resistance and tire drag, according to the lawsuit. These tests were flawed, however, and led to inaccurate mileage estimates, the plaintiff says.
Ford has faced questions about its mpg ratings before and was hit with several lawsuits in 2014 over its fuel-economy ratings. The complaint claims that Ford “was on notice” about its testing problems since at least the filing of these cases. In fact, the lawsuit states Ford’s own employees brought concerns over the newer-model Ranger and F-150’s fuel economy ratings to the automaker in September 2018, though Ford did not inform the public until 2019.
Ford penned a press release in February 2019 announcing it was bringing in an outside firm to investigate aspects of its fuel economy tests, including road load and coastdown testing. Ford insists that the investigation is not indicative of a defect and that “there’s been no determination that this affects Ford’s fuel economy labels or emissions certifications.”
The proposed class would cover anyone who purchased or leased a 2017-2019 Ranger or F-150.