The issue of emissions from vehicles is still an interesting topic. In a recent article Motoring Weekly described how FIAT Chrysler were buying credits from Tesla to offset the emissions coming from their fleet in advance of a change in regulation by the EU. We have seen further investigations into VW, BMW and Daimler Benz for their emission test results and now we have Ford in the US arriving in the spotlight.
Back in February, Ford announced that they were starting an internal investigation after several employees became concerned that the test results and the real world figures might not be close enough. Not wanting to risk a whistleblower and taking the bull by the horns, they were open about the issues. However that got the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) all wide eyed and salivating at the prospect of punishing the company.
Ford were quick to distance themselves from the issue that affected the VW Group where the onboard software could detect a test condition and adjust everything to deliver the results that the testers were looking for. In Ford’s case, it was an internal calculation that was wrong – specifically the “road load” which takes into consideration several metrics including the weight of the vehicle, the rolling resistance of the tyres, aerodynamics and other factors. If this input to their internal tests was wrong (i.e. lower than it should have been), then the company would be providing the wrong economy and emissions figures to the Government and market. That would give a buyer higher economy and lower emissions numbers – in the eyes of the authorities, that could be construed as fraudulent.
The Department of Justice was the first to bite and they launched their own criminal investigation in April with Ford notifying the EPA and CARB to resolve the issues before it became a large – or larger – fine. So far the main vehicle found with this issue is the 2019 model year Ranger light truck, however with the Government sniffing around, it might extend to other vehicles. Maybe it’s just as well that Ford have stopped producing most of its passenger cars in the US!
This situation has happened before with Ford having a similar error with some of their hybrids about five years ago and they paid a “goodwill” payment to about 200,000 buyers. Hyundai have also been caught out with the same calculation in the past so it isn’t just a Ford issue.