The Ford C-Max Hybrid had a big selling point when it was first introduced: 47 mpg in the city, highway, and combined. Very impressive numbers for a vehicle that could comfortably seat four and all of their stuff. However, no one was seeing that magical 47 mpg. Consumer Reports raised a huge stink in their test of the C-Max, stating their C-Max Hybrid got 37 mpg on average. When class-action lawsuits began to slam Ford, the EPA opened an investigation to see if those numbers could be achieved at all.
This week, Ford announced that they are voluntarily reducing the fuel economy numbers on the C-Max. The new numbers are 45 city/40 highway/43 combined. Ford also said that they would be compensating owners to the tune of the average estimated fuel cost difference between the two labels. Buyers will get $550 while lessees will get $325. This comes almost a month after Ford announced a new software update that would improve on-road fuel economy.
The big question is how did the C-Max get 47 mpg across the board? This is where it gets interesting. The EPA has a set of rules that are called the "General Label" rules. In essence, an automaker can generate a fuel economy label for a group of vehicles that share common characteristics (examples: powertrain and weight class). Once that is established, the vehicle projected to have the highest sales in the group is tested.
In the case the of C-Max, Ford generated the label for it and the Fusion Hybrid since both models used the same powertrain and were in the same class. From there, the Fusion Hybrid was projected to be the best seller and thus was tested. After testing, the Fusion got 47 mpg across the board in fuel economy, which was then applied to the C-Max Hybrid.