Ford Motor Co. may be suffering from déjà vu, the automaker announcing it is in the midst of self-imposed investigation of its fuel economy and testing procedures that may have produced incorrect mileage and emissions data.
The query has been going on since last fall and began when several employees voiced concerns about the process and the resulting data. The automaker is quick to point out that these potential problems do not involve cheat devices like those used by Volkswagen AG or other automakers.
Kimberly Pittel, Ford’s group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, told Reuters the investigation began with the test results for the 2019 Ford Ranger. The company is evaluation alterations made to the testing process and calculations used to determine fuel economy and emissions results submitted to federal regulatory agencies.
Ford shares fell slightly in after-hours trading following the disclosure. Shareholders may have been reminded when a similar incident happened in 2013. Several Ford vehicles were sold using incorrect fuel economy numbers. The automaker did adjust the numbers. For example, the Ford C-Max’s fuel economy numbers were cut by seven mpg.
(Fiat Chrysler settles emissions cheating case for $800 million. Click Here for the story.)
Ford brought on the law firm Sidley Austin to lead the independent investigation into possible discrepancies in calculations, Pittel said. The automaker also contracted an independent laboratory to conduct testing.
Federal and state regulators have been cracking down on automakers in the wake of the VW revelations in 2015, which has cost the German automaker more than $30 billion in fines, fees and penalties.
“We have voluntarily shared this information” with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, Pittel told Reuters, adding Ford notified the agencies this week.
(Click Here to see why VW was tagged with $1B fine in Germany for diesel-cheating scandal.)
The EPA said in a statement on Thursday that information from Ford’s investigation is “too incomplete for EPA to reach any conclusions. We take the potential issues seriously and are following up with the company to fully understand the circumstances behind this disclosure.”
Right now, it’s unclear the impact the review will have on advertised mileage or fuel economy data submitted to regulators. The automaker isn’t certain how many vehicles will be affected by the issue or if Ford will be forced to revise its numbers, as it was in 2013. Ford also compensated vehicle owners in 2014.
“We cannot predict the outcome, and cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us,” Ford told investors in a regulatory filing Thursday.
(To see an article about automakers falsifying emissions data, Click Here.)
“We are going to go where the investigation takes us,” Pittel told Reuters.