Ford Fuel Economy Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed Over Use Of The Word ‘Estimated,’ Says Automaker

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Words can be a tricky thing. Writers often use them to their advantage, inflicting influence or building a vessel for their personal opinions, often without readers even picking up on it. And it’s the use of one simple word that might just cause the entire Ford fuel economy lawsuit to get thrown out of court, or at least that’s what the automaker hopes. The particular word in question is “estimated,” and Ford is arguing that the plaintiffs in the case don’t understand its meaning.

The Ford fuel economy lawsuit, which began as multiple class action lawsuits that were eventually consolidated into one inside a Michigan court, alleges that the automaker knowingly overstated its fuel economy estimates for the 2017-2019 Ford F-150 as well as for the 2019 Ford Ranger. The plaintiffs in the case allege that they have have found errors in how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained its fuel economy estimates.

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Meanwhile, Ford argues that the plaintiffs are trying to act as federal regulators, which goes against current regulations. It also claims that the plaintiffs are trying to enforce the standards of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, a function that doesn’t belong to vehicle owners.

Ford says that estimates are approximate figures “generated for the purpose of enabling comparisons between different vehicles based on a common certification process.” Working in the automaker’s favor is the fact that in past years, courts have often rejected efforts by consumers to treat EPA estimates as guarantees of real-world fuel economy performance.

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The EPA somewhat backs up that sentiment, declaring that “ratings are a useful tool for comparing the fuel economies of different vehicles, but may not accurately predict the average miles per gallon you will get.” Ford has stated in the past that even its testers have found that results vary greatly depending on a variety of conditions, including the type of testing equipment used.

Honestly, it’s hard to disagree with the automaker here, as the word “estimated” is pretty much the same thing as a legal disclaimer. Automakers and the EPA have always been very forthcoming about the fact that fuel economy is going to vary, and is dependent on a slew of variables. But for now, at least, the ongoing Ford fuel economy lawsuit continues.

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We’ll have the latest on this as it develops, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford business newsFord lawsuit news, and around-the-clock Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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15 Comments

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  1. “Estimate” or not the published figures should be close to the real world figures. Yes the public does indeed look at the MPG numbers on the window sticker and factor this is before making their final decision to purchase. Certainly legally it should depend on how far off the figures are. At the same time, in my opinion, it should not depend on the method used to determine the MPG.

    • Unfortunately any real world figures you try to come up with are going to vary (wildly sometimes) depending on a lot of factors.
      The only way that Ford could be found at fault is if they were shown to be estimating incorrectly, which would take some real doing.

    • Real-world mileage based upon what style of driving? Aggressive? Granny? Uphill in hot weather at 5000 feet elevation? The numbers exist to compare vehicles in a reasonably accurate manner, and are derived from testing under identical prescribed conditions. The real world is full of variables, and it’s unrealistic to expect a real-world estimate, since *ahem* your driving habits and conditions may vary. Severely. Day in. Day out.

  2. … other key words: “knowingly overstated” …
    I’m one of the plaintiffs. Estimates are one thing. Outright lies are another.

    • The funny part is they actually have a range on there that goes higher and lower. The estimate is an average. The information is a federal mandate that is provided to Ford.
      My ’18 coyote averages 20mpg between me taking it easy and then hot footing it all over the place in sport mode. That’s a crew cab 4wd.

      • Estimated means exactly that.
        E S T I M A T E D
        All automakers use the estimated mpg including kWh (MP kWh) on electric vehicles and everything from a heavy right foot, to elevation, to humidity, to wind shear to a host of other fat-butt and fat passenger issues comes into play. Same goes with our estimated life span, estimated temperature, estimated common sense.
        I wouldn’t be surprised if the corrupt General Motors company isn’t behind both the complaints as well as this and other articles… Even though they use estimated figures too.

        Must be a bunch of Democrats complaining and running GM. Not saying Ford doesn’t have it’s share of baby killing Dems too… But at least Ford isn’t trying to sabotage the other guy’s truck sales, so their crappy models (GM’s) looks better.
        Oh the politics of it all. Aww

  3. Quote-The plaintiffs in the case allege that they have have found errors in how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained its fuel economy estimates.

    The errors are that the EPA seems to overrate Ford trucks\SUV’s and underrate GM’s and that seems to be the case in most every one I have rented both truck or SUV. The new 2021 Chevy and GMC SUV’s that drop as much as 3 highway MPG are really suspect here with the switch over to the new 10 speed automatic, newer more efficient DFM system and better aerodynamics. The fact is that every Ecoboost 3.5 Expedition or Navigator I rented or driven struggled to even achieve 20 on the open road despite being rated for up to 23 and the GM’s easily get there 21-22 highway rating and sometimes exceed it on the exact same roads and speeds.

    • 1st, what was the “Estimated” mileage and the “Actual” mileage? 2nd, everyone knows mileage varies. If it’s a lot than something is wrong, leadfoot owner, or they lied about the “Estimated” milage. I don’t understand why the EPA would use different test equipment. It wouldn’t be cost effective! I believe, if ford lied, it’s what Joe Yoman said, I drive dodges,and their milage are close to the EPA, so something doesn’t sound right.
      Mark Morris:How many miles and how many gls? 3/4 OF a 36gal tank is 12, if you drove 800 miles that’s 66 mpg, I don’t believe it.

    • Estimated means exactly that.
      E S T I M A T E D
      All automakers use the estimated mpg including kWh (MP kWh) on electric vehicles and everything from a heavy right foot, to elevation, to humidity, to wind shear to a host of other fat-butt and fat passenger issues comes into play. Same goes with our estimated life span, estimated temperature, estimated common sense.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if the corrupt General Motors company isn’t behind both the complaints as well as this and other articles… Even though they use estimated figures too.

      Must be a bunch of Democrats complaining and running GM. Not saying Ford doesn’t have it’s share of baby killing Dems too… But at least Ford isn’t trying to sabotage the other guy’s truck sales, so their crappy models (GM’s) looks better.
      Oh the politics of it all. Aww

    • EPA doesn’t report anything. Manufacturers report there testing to the EPA using the process EPA puts forward. I believe a investigation is still active on Fords road load testing in the U.S. and Canada.

  4. I have no idea what is wrong with your vehicles. I have a 2019 Ford f150 lariat crew cab 4×4 with 3.5 EcoBoost. The other weekend I drove just under a thousand kms one way on 3/4 of a tank. I know cars that can’t do that.

  5. Mark Yaris, There is a simple explaination for your error. Read the forums on your fuel gauge. The first 1/4 tank on the gauge is only 17.3% of the tank so that you will have the extra at the bottom of the tank to seemingly run on empty to make it to the next gas station. Thus your 3/4 of a tank was actually 82.7% of 36 gallons = 29.63 gallons to travel the 1000km or 625 miles giving your only 21 MPG that the plaintiffs have stated and not the 23 MPG that you thought you were getting if you had only used 27 gallons of fuel. Case closed.

    Fill the tank to completely full and run it to completely empty. You will find your results varry as indicated above.

  6. If it were an estimate, how many times can you continue to miss your actual target , and never adjust your calculations, especially since Ford has never missed by underestimating.

    I’m still a fan of my 2009, 2014, and 2016 F150 ‘s but I drive best in class, and right now that is a 3.0 inline 6 turbo diesel GMC.

    It’s time to tell the truth Ford! My 5.0 got the same mileage as my 3.5 “ecoboost”, both times I wanted lower drive ratio gears and I ended up with 3.73:1 , my GMC is 3:20:1 or something, it is really simple – offer the loaded trucks with tow package, but low 3’s gearing, and drop the truck a few inches for better eco, if you want it higher GM will offer you that choice
    Maybe see you in 2024 after the next next redesign Ford, oh and if I went gas… hands down the 6.2L V8 in a half ton. Hmm GM again,
    If you offer the new 7.3 in the F150 and 3:20 gears, and some GM cylinder deactivation it would probably be the best mileage F150 yet, at least since the F100

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