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$19.2 million multistate settlement reached with Ford

A Ford logo is seen on signage at Country Ford in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
A Ford logo is seen on signage at Country Ford in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, July 27, 2021.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 11:40 AM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut’s attorney general announced a multistate settlement with Ford Motor Company over claims that the automaker falsely advertised the fuel economy and payload capacity of certain hybrids and pickup trucks.

Attorney General William Tong said the $19.2 million settlement involved model year 2013–2014 C-Max hybrids and the payload capacity of model year 2011–2014 Super Duty pickup trucks.

Connecticut will receive $253,229.65 from the settlement.

Ford separately paid $35 million in direct restitution to C-MAX lessees and owners, according to Tong.

“Gas is a huge expense for Connecticut families,” he said. “Decreased fuel efficiency results in a significant additional cost for drivers.  Ford intentionally deceived customers with inflated fuel economy and payload capacity ratings, falsely claiming their C-Max hybrids and Super Duty pickup trucks could beat the competition. These false and misleading advertisements were unlawful and will not be tolerated.”

“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.”

2013–2014 C-Max Hybrids

Tong said the investigation revealed that Ford made several misleading representations about 2013–2014 C-Max hybrids including:

  • Misrepresenting the distance consumers could drive on one tank of gas;
  • Marketing that driving style would not impact real world fuel economy; and,
  • Claiming superior real world fuel economy compared to other hybrids.

At one point, Ford ran a series of advertisements called the “Hybrid Games,” which were narrated like an Olympic sporting event and depicted the C-Max outperforming the Prius in a series of videos. The attorneys general allege that the videos deceptively reflected that C-Max vehicles offered superior real-world fuel economy and driving performance. The C-Max hybrid was initially promoted as 47 mpg in the city and highway. Ford had to lower the vehicle’s fuel economy rating once in 2013 and again in 2014, to eventually 42 mpg/city, 37 mpg/highway, and 40 mpg/city-highway mixed; impacting the model year 2013 (twice) and model year 2014 C-Max hybrid. This settlement corrects Ford’s deceptive advertising practices, and helps ensure that Ford will not make false or misleading advertising claims about the fuel economy of its vehicles.

2011–2014 Super Duty Pick-up Trucks

The attorneys general also investigated Ford’s misleading “Best-in-Class” payload claims on its 2011–2014 Super Duty pick-up trucks, which includes the F-250, F-350, and F-450 models, a line that caters to consumers hauling and towing heavy loads. The attorneys general allege that Ford’s methodology to calculate maximum payload capacity for advertising purposes was based on a hypothetical truck configuration that omitted standard items such as the spare wheel, tire and jack, center flow console (replacing it with a mini console), and radio. Although advertised as available to all customers, only fleet customers could order the special configuration.

The settlement was led by Oregon, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont and Arizona, and joined by the Attorneys General of 35 additional states and jurisdictions.