Ford Says U.S. May Change Hybrid Fuel Economy Testing

Ford Motor Co., facing criticism for the fuel-economy performance of some of its models, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may change its procedures for testing the mileage of hybrids.

Several of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid models showed even bigger fuel-economy shortfalls against the EPA estimates than the Ford Fusion hybrid and C-Max hybrid when tested for mileage in city driving by Consumer Reports magazine, Raj Nair, Ford’s product development chief, said at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit.

“They reflected a lot of differences versus the EPA label for all manufacturers,” Nair said today on a webcast of the conference. “There are a lot of factors that can introduce that type of variability” in actual fuel economy compared with EPA ratings, including speed and outside temperature, he said.

Ford’s two newest hybrid models fell 17 percent to 21 percent short of the company’s promise of 47 miles (76 kilometers) per gallon in tests by Consumer Reports, the Yonkers, New York-based magazine reported last month in a statement. The Ford Fusion hybrid achieved 39 mpg, while the C-Max hybrid averaged 37 mpg in tests of city and highway driving, Consumer Reports said.

Hybrids can lose about 7 miles per gallon when driving at 75 miles per hour rather than 65 mph, Nair said. A difference of 30 degrees in outside temperature can cause a 5 mpg disparity. Mileage can be another 5 mpg lower for a new hybrid compared with one that’s been driven at least 6,000 miles, he said.

“We continue to work closely with the EPA to determine whether the industry testing procedure needs changes for hybrid vehicle testing,” Nair said.