Settlement: Ford Caught Cheating Super Duty Mileage and Payload Ratings

Ford has agreed to pay almost $20 million over false claims of both mileage and payload ratings in Super Duty advertising. The Iowa Attorney General said that Ford’s ratings “were not based in reality, leaving customers with vehicles that did not meet their standards.” Forty states and the District of Columbia alleged false claims. It says it used deceptive methodology to keep its “Best in Class” payload numbers. 

What does the Ford Super Duty settlement find?

2013 Ford F-250
2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty | Ford

“In calculating the maximum payload capacity of its vehicles, the investigation found, Ford employed a truck configuration it did not actually intend to sell to individual buyers. One that omitted such standard items as the spare wheel, tire and jack, radio, and center console,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “For years, Ford advertised impressive fuel economy and payload capacity for its cars and trucks,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller added.

The settlement involved 2011 and 2014 Super Duty trucks. These include the F-250, F-350, and F-450 models, and Ford’s C-Max hybrids. Back in 2013, Ford dropped the fuel economy ratings for the C-Max by seven mpg. It also wrote $550 checks to owners. This was to cover the difference in actual gas mileage. 

How did Ford respond to the Super Duty findings?

2013 Ford F-350
2013 Ford F-350 Super Duty | Ford

Ford did not admit to any wrongdoing, according to Automotive News. But the settlement prohibits it from listing false fuel economy or payload capacity numbers. Besides the false mileage claims, it was found that Ford also stretched the distance for a tank of gas. And it claimed that an owner’s driving style had no effect on fuel economy figures. 

It also said that its hybrid models had the highest fuel economy numbers of any hybrid built, according to Platkin. The settlement alleges the company produced a number of Olympic sport-like advertisements it called “Hybrid Games.” They showed a C-Max beating a Toyota Prius.  

What did Ford claim mileage was for the C-Max?

2013 Ford F-250
2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty | Ford

The C-Max hybrid was initially sold with 47 mpg in the city and highway. But Ford then lowered its fuel economy rating once in 2013, and again in 2014. It eventually advertised 42 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and 40 mpg city-highway combined.

“Advertising has a huge impact in persuading someone to purchase an item. But when that advertising contains false and misleading information it can cause a lot of harm to unsuspecting consumers,” said Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, Department of Consumer Protection. “We are happy to see this case resolved and appreciate the Attorney General for taking action when there are allegations that consumers are being misled.”

As for the Super Duty trucks, Platkin says, “Ford was able to add additional pounds to the maximum advertisable payload capacity. It was just enough to reclaim the title of ‘Best-in-Class’ for payload.”

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