Multiple owners of 2017 to 2019 Ford F-150 models and Ranger models have banded together to file a class-action lawsuit – “In RE: Ford Motor Co. F-150 and Ranger Truck Fuel Economy Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation.” The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, claims that Ford Motor Company intentionally misrepresented fuel economies of those vehicles, among others, on the Monroney label (window sticker) beginning as early as 2017.
The fuel economy lawsuit
An excerpt from the Ford fuel economy class-action lawsuit states: “Ford intentionally concealed concerns associated with its fuel economy testing and failed to provide any notice to consumers until February 21, 2019—well after Ford had or should have had notice that its fuel economy ratings were not trustworthy or accurate.”
In September 2018, Ford employees filed an internal report about possible problems with emissions and fuel economy testing procedures centered on data collected during road load testing. In February 2019, the automaker contacted the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) about potential issues with its fuel economy testing procedure that may have an effect on their stock price.
As reported by Car Complaints, Ford claims that the owners represented by the class-action lawsuit are overstepping by attempting to force civilian oversight on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the organization responsible for estimating fuel economy based on data supplied by manufacturers.
It also claims that owners of the suspected vehicles apparently do not understand that estimated fuel mileage means that individual fuel mileage may vary, refuting what Ford interprets as the claimants’ desire that fuel economy is presented as “True Fuel Economy.”
The issues surrounding Ford’s fuel economy estimates
A major component of the road load data is a test known as “coast-down” testing in which a vehicle is allowed to coast from a predetermined speed. This allows test engineers to simulate aerodynamic drag, calculate tire rolling resistance, and other drivetrain losses due to friction. Road load data is used to set parameters for fuel economy computer modeling.
Ford continues to insist that EPA fuel economy estimates are in fact only estimates and that individual mileage will vary depending on driving characteristics and other factors. But if the EPA was given faulty road load test data, the estimates they obtained would be inaccurate. The question is, did Ford intentionally provide inaccurate data to the EPA?
An example from one plaintiff states that the window sticker on their new 2018 F-150 XL indicated an estimated 24 mpg highway, 19 mpg city, and 21 mpg combined, but those numbers were incorrect. According to the plaintiff, Ford should have corrected them. There is no data available to indicate the actual fuel economy for this truck.
Another bone of contention involves the automaker’s use of superior EPA fuel estimates to market Ford Rangers and F-150s to consumers looking for fuel-efficient alternatives to other pickup trucks in the marketplace. Many members of the class-action lawsuit claim that if they had been given true fuel economy numbers, none of them would have purchased their Ford vehicle.
Ford’s motion to dismiss
Ford’s legal team is holding nothing back in their motion to dismiss the fuel economy class-action lawsuit. In addition to insulting class-action members’ intelligence by stating they must not know what the word estimated means and claiming that the plaintiffs are attempting to control procedures used by the EPA to determine fuel economy estimates, Ford is also claiming that plaintiffs are “trying to enforce the standards of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975,” another duty not relegated to them.
Ford’s team of attorneys also point to legal precedent involving other court cases in which plaintiffs were denied legal remedy when asserting EPA fuel economy estimates ensured any guarantee of true fuel economy.