A proposed class action has been filed in Michigan over Ford Motor Company’s allegedly undisclosed use of a “mileage cheat device” in certain 2019 vehicle models in order to conceal the trucks’ poor gas mileage from owners and lessees.
A “cheat device,” the suit explains, allows a vehicle’s trip meter to misrepresent the car’s mileage, whereas a “defeat device,” thesubjectof a number of other lawsuits, interferes with emissions controls. Armed with the knowledge that consumers are willing to pay a premium price for fuel efficiency—not to mention the potential profits to be had from the sale of EPA-certified vehicles—Ford equipped its 2019 Ranger and F-150 trucks with “cheat devices” in order to game federal emissions testing, the lawsuit says.
“Ford knew that to sell the Ranger, it had to tout it had fuel-efficiency, and a promise that was material to consumers,” the lawsuit reads.
Ford, as part of what the lawsuit describes as a “tangled web of deception,” apparently deliberately misrepresented or miscalculated certain road testing factors in order to report to the EPA that its vehicles were more fuel efficient than they actually were. Specifically, the case alleges Ford manipulated calculations of vehicles’ “road load,” the force that is imparted on a vehicle driving at a constant speed over a smooth, level surface, and “coast down,” a testing method used to calculate the forces working against a vehicle by driving it up to speed, then shifting into neutral and allowing it to coast. With regard to affected vehicles’ “road load” numbers, Ford’s internal lab tests, the complaint claims, purposely did not account for factors such astire rolling resistance, driveline losses, and aerodynamic drag, leading to more favorable fuel economy projections.
In the face of its own employees questioning its testing methods—particularly that the methods seemingly ignored certain common driving conditions—and calculations, Ford, the lawsuit alleges, “took no action to correct the problems, or alert consumers” that they would not get the fuel economy they were promised.
“Ford’s representations are deceptive and false,” the case alleges, “and Ford sold its 2019 Ford Rangers while omitting information that would be material to a reasonable consumer, namely that Ford miscalculated factors during internal vehicle testing processes in order to report that its vehicles were more fuel efficient than they actually were, and discounting common real-world driving conditions.”