Ford of Canada will revise 2013 fuel consumption labels for its C-Max hybrid crossover, after Ford’s recent testing indicated that the gas-electric hybrid didn’t achieve its stated figures; the company will also compensate Canadian C-Max owners up to $895.
The decision comes after a year of questions surrounding the real-world veracity of the fuel economy figures listed for the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the C-Max Hybrid, which were identical, in both the United States and Canada.
Although Canadians who bought their C-Max Hybrid will receive up to $895, those who leased their C-Max by the end of July will be eligible for rebates of $595. Both amounts are higher than the amounts offered in the United States because of the higher price of fuel in Canada, a Ford spokesperson said this week.
In the United States, C-Max buyers were offered $550, while those who leased were offered $325 in compensation, figures that ended up being reported in many Canadian publications, sites and news reports. Similar compensation was also offered to Kia and Hyundai buyers last year.
Unlike the high-profile case of Hyundai and Kia in 2012, in which company executives were publicly apologetic about testing errors that resulted in inflated numbers for nearly their entire lineup of vehicles, Ford executives argue that they followed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Canada guidelines fully.
The aligned standards allow Ford to group vehicles using the same engine and similar weights together in the same EPA test, and then only physically test and publish figures for the model with the highest sales, which in this case was the Fusion Hybrid.
So all earlier C-Max advertising and marketing materials, which relied heavily on these eye-popping 4 litre/100 km overall averages in Canada, were legally correct at the time of publication, Ford argues. The compensation and fuel consumption label revisions are therefore voluntary measures, as is Ford’s decision to test the C-Max separately from here on in, although the EPA stated in a release about the restatement that it is also working to update its fuel consumption label requirements.
The revised 2013 C-Max fuel consumption label will now feature a 4.5 litres/100 km overall average, which breaks down to 4.2 city and 4.9 highway. Interestingly, these Canadian figures are still notably more efficient than the revised figures listed by the EPA at its official fueleconomy.gov site, which now lists an overall average for the C-Max of 5.5 litres/100 km, compared to 5.0 previously.
Canada still uses an older two-cycle testing regimen, while the United States uses a more stringent five-cycle test, a test in which all its parameters look to be updated, as this fiasco shows poorly on Ford (for heavily promoting fuel consumption numbers it should have known were not real C-Max figures), the EPA and all Canadian fuel efficiency testing agencies. Still, Ford at least compensates owners, and has vowed that it will examine whether changes should also be made to the Ford Fusion Energi, now rated at 4.5 litres/100 km combined, which in Canada is based on C-Max Energi test ratings, since the C-Max Energi was expected to be the higher seller of those two, Ford of Canada communications manager Christine Hollander said in an e-mail Tuesday.
Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver said in June that revised Canadian fuel efficiency ratings were on their way, without providing details or a timetable. So any EPA changes may soon arrive in both countries as well – or delay such alignment measures even further.
At least there’s good news, especially for C-Max buyers in Alberta, as the rebate there will cover about 30 per cent more fuel than for drivers in Vancouver, according to Tuesday gasbuddy.com figures. The gas price-watching site lists Alberta’s 117.4 cent per litre average compared to a Canadian average of 131 cents, and a 144.3 average for regular in Vancouver.
Utility says plug-in owners spend about $25/month
Whether fully electric or plug-in hybrids, early testing among plug-in vehicle owners in Toronto suggests that they spend an average of $25 per month on electricity for fuel, said Toronto Hydro, in a recently published snapshot of its EV infrastructure.
This accounts for about a quarter of the total monthly electricity bill cost for each participant in the research program for the largest utility company in Canada, in an unscientific but interesting snapshot taken amongst the pilot program’s 26 participants of early plug-in buyers, of which I am one, out of about 1,300 plug-in drivers on Ontario roads.
The local distribution company estimates about 20 per cent of the province’s plug-in drivers actually live in the city of Toronto proper, with many in surrounding communities that commute into the city, and (possibly) use Toronto’s current EV infrastructure.
It found little plug-in penetration in downtown areas of the city, as none of the program’s participants are condo owners or live in apartments. Plug-in drivers have encountered opposition and a lack of facilities to plug in these vehicles, with owned parking spots, metering and billing hurdles still to cross, the snapshot found, though better public transportation networks downtown may also be a factor here.
Amongst the program test fleet, 27 per cent of participants each drive the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf or Smart fortwo, with the rest being Tesla Model S and Roadster owners. Toronto Hydro realizes that the high number of BEVs don’t reflect market sales proportionally, but their longer recharge times and available high-speed charging capabilities place unique infrastructure pressure on the grid.
Ferrari to show 458 Speciale in Frankfurt
Supercar maker Ferrari has unveiled the hard-core version of its 458 Italia mid-engine V-8 sports car, the 458 Speciale. It’s not quite a new Ferrari Scuderia model, but it’s close.
Incorporating more horsepower (up to 605 metric horsepower, or 597 hp in usual SAE terms compared to 562 hp), and significantly lighter weight (down to 1,290 kg from 1,485 kg), the 458 Speciale promises a blistering 3.0-second run from rest to 100 km/h, and 200 km/h in 9.1 seconds, when most compact cars haven’t arrived at 100 km/h yet.
The car will debut at the Frankurt auto show next month, and will incorporate handling upgrades including unique Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tires, front and rear active aerodynamics and a more performance-oriented stability control system it calls the Side Slip angle Control (SSC) system.
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