The complaint for this class action is one of several filed recently that accuses the Ford Motor Company of fudging the figures it used in its fuel efficiency testing. The purpose, the complaint says, was to make it look as if Ford vehicles, including the Ranger and F-150, had greater fuel efficiency than they do.
The Nationwide Class for this action is all persons or entities in the US who currently own or formerly owned a 2019 Ford Ranger or a 2017 to 2019 Ford F-150. A Georgia Subclass, for those who are located in Georgia, has also been proposed.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that manufacturers test vehicles for fuel efficiency. It prescribes the methods to be used but leaves it to the vehicle makers to perform the testing. It confirms tests for only about 15% to 20% of vehicles.
Ford uses “road load” tests to determine fuel economy. The tests are not done on a road but using a machine called a dynamometer. The company must program the dynamometer with certain information, including the vehicle’s road load.
Ford explains road load this way: “Road load is a vehicle-specific resistance level used in vehicle dynamometer testing… Road load is determined through engineering models that are validated through vehicle testing, including physical track tests referred to as coastdown testing.”
The complaint says, “Coastdown testing simulates aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance, and drivetrain frictional losses and provides the technical data used to program the test dynamometers.”
According to the complaint, Ford programmed the dynamometers with false road load figures when it did its fuel economy testing.
When Ford brought out its 2019 models, it touted the Ranger as the “most fuel-efficient gas-powered midsized pickup in America.” It represented it as “providing a superior EPA-estimated fuel economy rating and an unsurpassed EPA-estimated combined fuel economy rating versus the competition.”
However, real-world use of the Ranger has shown different figures. For example, one automobile writer took the Ranger on a thousand-mile trip in a configuration where it should have gotten 24 mpg on the highway. His highway mileage was only 19.5 mpg.
In its annual report, filed on February 21, 2019, Ford admitted that it was “aware of a potential concern involving its U.S. emissions certification process…” Ford said it would hire an outside firm to investigate the vehicle road load specifications used in its fuel economy testing. However, the complaint says that Ford has admitted that it knew about the “concern” since September 2018, through employee use of Ford’s Speak Up reporting channel, but it did not inform consumers until the February 2019 report.