Ford has settled with multiple attorneys general over allegations that the automaker “falsely advertised the true fuel economy of its C-Max hybrid vehicles and the payload capacity of its Super Duty pickup trucks.”
In a press release, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said an investigation found Ford made “deceptive and misleading” claims about the 2011-2014 F-Series Super Duty with a best-in-class payload. They claim competitors outstripped Ford’s payload, so the automaker devised a “misleading method” to regain the title.
Also read: 2022 Ford Super Duty unveiled with less chrome, new 12-inch infotainment system
Methodology could stretch things a bit, as Ford reportedly used a disgruntled truck with no basic items like a spare tire, tire and jack, as well as a radio. The center console was also reportedly replaced with a “mini console” to save weight and “add extra pounds to the maximum payload capacity of its Super Duty truck – just enough for Ford to regain its best-in-class title.” for payload.”
The attorneys general allege that Ford never intended to sell such a disgruntled truck to customers and used the “misleading calculation only for advertising purposes…” Essentially, Ford reportedly lost the payload crown, so they came up with a ‘creative’ solution.
As far as fuel economy goes, the spirit of the C-Max makes a cameo. The attorney general’s group alleged that Ford made “several misleading statements” about the fuel economy of the 2013 and 2014 C-Max to claim a “competitive advantage over other vehicles in the same class.” Among their claims was that Ford misrepresented the distance consumers could drive on a single tank of gasoline, claimed that driving style would not affect the vehicles’ actual fuel economy, and claimed that it had superior real-world fuel economy compared to with other hybrids.
They pointed to a series of C-Max videos known as the “Hybrid Games,” which depicted the model beating the Toyota Prius/Prius V. The problem was that these ads “deceptively suggested that C-Max vehicles offered superior real-world fuel economy and driving performance, which they didn’t.”
The attorneys general also pointed out that Ford needed to reduce the fuel economy of the C-Max. The model was “initially touted” as getting 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway, but those numbers were eventually lowered to 42 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. However, like Reuters noted, Ford compensated owners $550 (£440 / €513) for the drop.
Ford admitted no mistakes and settled the matter for $19.2 (£15.3/17.9) million. While that’s not much, Attorney General Platkin said: “Misleading claims by manufacturers about their vehicles’ fuel economy could lead to consumers paying more than expected at the pump. Today’s settlement sends the important message that we will hold accountable any automaker who misleads consumers about the real affordability of driving one of their vehicles.”