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Hyundai Must Be Smiling as Ford Caught Fudging EPA Numbers - Again

The news that Ford is lowering the fuel economy ratings for its 2013- and 2014-model year hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as most 2014-model year Fiestas, must be especially pleasing to Hyundai because of strong industry rumors that Ford ratted out Hyundai on the Sonata hybrid and other Hyundai and Kia models.

According to its announcement, Ford identified an error with fuel economy ratings on certain vehicles through its internal testing and notified the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company worked with EPA as the agency retested the vehicles to determine the correct fuel economy ratings. One of the great secrets of EPA testing is the manufacturers do the bulk of the testing and submit the results to the EPA.

The OEMs really only get caught if the EPA actually decides to do its own testing, which isn't that common in high numbers, or another OEM rats them out. (Sometimes in egregious cases the EPA will respond to consumer complaints, too.) An in-the-know executive at Hyundai said Ford did just that with the Sonata hybrid numbers. When the Kia models were thrown in, 900,000 vehicle owners had to be compensated.

Now, Ford is in the same boat again. Back in April 2013 it had to reimburse 32,000 C-Maxx hybrid owners because it overstated the combined fuel economy by 4 mpg. That's a pretty big "oops" to make.

Hyundai and Kia got caught, owned up to its mistake, and made restitution. In my opinion, everybody deserves a chance at rehabilitation and the Koreans seem to have done that. However, Ford has now been caught twice overstating its fuel economy numbers. The Koreans are too classy to gloat on the outside but there has to be some internal joy over the fact that sales numbers for Ford's affected vehicles are probably going to take a hit. You know resale values are going to drop.

And, as Cliff Atiyeh observes at Car and Driver, "Embarrassingly for Ford, the Fiesta’s downgrade now makes the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage tops among non-hybrids." That must really make Hyundai smile to see Ford losing out to such a lousy car.


Bobby McBobster (not verified)    July 17, 2014 - 4:35AM

In reply to by soakee (not verified)

Wha-huh? Admitting something AFTER you're caught doesn't count. What I see is that Ford was too willing to try to do it again, and got caught - again. I'm no Hyundai fan-boy either. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they'll overstate the mpg on another car as well.