Plaintiffs from seven states have put their names on a proposed class action against Ford Motor Company over the automaker’s alleged gaming of “coastdown testing,” a procedure used to determine metrics to calculate a vehicle’s fuel economy rating.
The 198-page complaint out of Michigan district court explains that coastdown testing is a procedure manufacturers use to gauge a vehicle’s rolling resistance and drag. This information comes into play when a vehicle is tested on a dynamometer, particularly so that an automaker knows how much drag and rolling resistance to apply to a vehicle to properly simulate road conditions, the case says.
According to the lawsuit, Ford artificially boosted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mileage ratings for 2019 Ranger and 2018–2019 F-150 trucks by using inaccurate drag and resistance figures during coastdown testing. The result of Ford’s alleged coastdown gaming is that though the window stickers of affected Ford F-150 models with a V6 engine denote EPA fuel ratings of 20 city, 26 highway, and 22 combined, the vehicle’s actual ratings are 17.7 miles per gallon (MPG) for city driving and 22.7 MPG for highway driving, differences of 10 and 15 percent respectively. As the case tells it, the difference this makes in consumers’ wallets is substantial:
“So the highway fuel difference is 15% and the city difference 10%. Assuming the lifetime of a truck is 150,000 miles, at the real city miles per gallon rates. City driving would consume an extra 821 gallons over the lifetime of the truck, or at $2.79 national average fuel price, an extra $2,290 in fuel costs over Ford’s reported miles per gallon. The highway extra fuel (extra means real MPG versus Ford’s reported MPG) is 968 gallons or $2,700."
The suit goes on to note that Ford’s testing of 2018–2019 F-150 trucks is similar to that of the 2019 Ranger, which is under federal investigationover charges of improper coastdown testing.
With regard to the overall calculation of affected vehicles’ EPA mileage ratings, Ford, the lawsuit alleges, “deliberately misrepresented certain road testing factors” in order to garner fuel efficiency numbers that were better than they actually were. Central to this process, the suit continues, was Ford’s miscalculation of “road load,” the force that is placed on a vehicle from tire rolling resistance, driveline losses, and aerodynamic drag while driving at a consistent speed over a smooth, level surface.
“Ford’s internal lab tests did not account for these forces,” the complaint reads, “which lead to better—and entirely inaccurate—fuel economy projections.”
The plaintiffs argue that Ford “used the fuel efficiency ratings as a selling tool” for its new Ranger and F-150 vehicles. Ford, the case claims, took no action to correct its coastdown testing procedures despite its own employees raising concerns about fuel economy rating calculations at least by September 2018.
The lawsuit proposes to cover a class of consumers who bought or leased a Ford vehicle whose published EPA fuel economy ratings, as printed in its window sticker, were “more than the fuel economy rating produced by a properly conducted applicable federal mileage test.” ClassAction.org’s previous coverage of similar allegations against Ford concerning apparent fuel economy manipulation can be readhereandhere.