Area woman sues Ford because her hybrid's mileage sucks

A Norfolk County resident yesterday filed a class-action suit against Ford because she's only getting 32 m.p.g. with her new Ford C-Max rather than the 47 m.p.g. the company promotes in its commercials.

Marianne Cibeu is seeking at least $5 million in damages, for both herself and other members of what she says is a large class of similarly disgruntled Massachusetts purchasers of 2013 C-Max and Fusion Hybrids.

After viewing television advertisements regarding the C-Max Hybrid, Plaintiff then went to the Ford dealership and spoke with a salesperson who confirmed the C-Max Hybrid achieved 47 miles per gallon in real world highway, city and combined driving. ... Plaintiff has only achieved an average of 32 mpg. Had the gas mileage and fuel economy for Plaintiff's C-Max Hybrid been accurately disclosed in Ford's marketing campaign, Plaintiff would not have purchased her C-Max Hybrid or would have paid less for the Vehicle.



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PDF icon Cibeu's complaint0 bytes


what if

what if she just drives her car like an asshole?

relevant: it's funny that my non-hybrid 2012 Focus got around 35-38mpg, more than this (person's) hybrid.

That could be

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Dunno about these newfangled modern hybrids, but if you own an old one, like, say, a 2007 Prius, sometimes you really have to work to get anywhere near the advertised mileage on a hybrid - if you become obsessed, you're going to read all about hypermiling (my favorite part is gliding - if you're between 30 and 40 mph and you hit the accelerator pedal just right, you turn off the gas engine, the main electric motor and the gizmos in the front wheels that generate electricity through braking; it goes along with another technique in which you do this until you get to 30, then accelerate to 40, then repeat and yes, you only do that on roads where conditions permit).

But there might also be more going on than a heavy foot on the accelerator. The kind of driving you do also affects mileage (just like in any other car).

I get the 50 mpg on the highway my Prius was advertised for (and one of the reasons I bought it, back when I had a 52-mile daily roundtrip).

I don't get anywhere near the 60 mpg city Toyota claimed back then or even the 48 or 50 they lowered it to the next year, but a major part of that could be that most of my "city" trips are really short, probably within the time when the engine is still using extra gas to warm up the catalytic converter.

And warming up the catalytic converter is one of the reasons hybrids (again like other cars) get worse mileage in the winter.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how Ford claims this is all her fault rather than overoptimistic advertising on their part (didn't a couple of Korean car companies get dinged for their own too-high hybrid numbers?).

Hey, now

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I've only ever been to one get-together of Prius owners, and haven't looked at PriusChat in years!

Your Mileage May Vary

Anybody remember seeing or hearing that? Pretty standard disclaimer in ads and on the sticker.

The reason is that official mileage figures that are advertized by automakers are the result of a controlled and highly specified testing method. This means a drive cycle (speed, distance, time, etc.) is specified and the same for each and every vehicle, and the measurements are taken from trials using a dynamometer in a laboratory (set of wheels much like cyclists use for stationary training).

The automakers simply advertise the numbers they get from the official tests. People need to be aware that these are not "real world" in the sense that they are laboratory test values. While the automakers themselves conduct the tests, they have to be to specifications laid out by the EPA and the data has to be reported to and certified by the EPA. There isn't any wiggle room there.

The problem is that even the most realistic drive cycle test happens under controlled conditions, not real world conditions. Driving in MA tends to suck gas because there is a lot of congestion - meaning low speeds and braking. Given that the EPA mandates the testing and the test cycles, it will be a tough sell to claim that Ford is advertising falsely when they are essentially reporting out numbers from a standardized test - just like all the others are - and that such numbers have come with a disclaimer for so long that it has become cliche. The mileage numbers are for comparison and certification purposes ONLY.

makes sense

Judging by the way a hybrid works, it would seem driving it like a grandmother would get optimal performance from both the electric motor and regenerative charging system.

If one was heavy on the gas, heavy on the brakes (doesn't seem all that uncommon really), I would think the car is using the gas engine full time on acceleration, and doesn't have the time to use the regenerative charging system (which works on coasting/gradual slowing) and thus MPG would suffer.

That's absolutely correct

I have 2011 Prius, and I've found that on my 110-mile round trip commute, my mileage can vary from as high as 52 MPG to as low as 44, all depending on the weather (winter is terrible), traffic (standstill is fine, but the speed-up-to-slam-on-the-brakes thing kills your mileage), and yes, my need to drive like a Masshole.

A few weeks ago, I took back roads home from Lowell to Roslindale, and at some point in Lincoln or Weston, I broke 60MPG, but that was driving 25-30 MPH for dozens of miles -- not something that can be achieved on a daily basis.

Sometimes rush hour on 128 was wonderful

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The stretch on the southbound side from roughly Rte. 9 to Great Plain Avenue. It's mostly downhill, and if you got the sort of commute where you were doing roughly 45 m.p.h., boom, the fabled 99 mph five-minute bar (there's another stretch once you get off from 128 there, starting at that giant A-frame church to Rte. 109/Bridge Street, where you could get the same mpg reading, although at a slower speed, and you'd have to glide at the end to the intersection with Bridge).

Oh, God, I'm one of those people, aren't I?

Hyundai and KIA got dinged

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Hyundai and KIA got dinged for non-hybrid numbers too. The non-hybrid KIA Soul was one of the worst offenders among the models identified.

Winter mileage

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I've never once heard that cars get worse gas mileage in the winter due to "catalytic converter" warm up times. This is easily tested by removing the converter (surprise, some people do this).

Other (more detrimental) factors:
1. Your oil is thicker and you're outside of operating temperature for a longer period of time.
2. Your tire pressure is lower, and depending on the type of tire, you probably have flat spots for the first few miles. Doubly true if you're riding on "super-high-mileage" tires.
3. We get Winter gas here, which has less energy in it than Summer gas. This usually results in a ~3% reduction on its own.
4. In the case of hybrids, heat + every heated gizmo takes power from one system or the other (gas or electric).

A semi-related personal gripe, cars should be sold advertising gallons per mile, not miles per gallon (and certainly not with electric miles per gallon, ever). It would greatly benefit the consumer.

liters / 100km

liters/100km is the common fuel-economy metric outside the United States. Seems that gallons/100mi wouldn't be unreasonable.

I get 22 mpg... IN MY 2011

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I get 22 mpg... IN MY 2011 FORD EXPLORER LIMITED! If she is only averaging 10 mpg better than me, I call BS. That's the very definition of user error.

Guarantee you she's one of those slam-on-the-gas-at-the-green-light-then-let-it-drift-for-awhile kind of ladies.

How about pumps

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I remember when in gradeschool a friends mother drove us somewhere. She was on the gas or off, with no ability to keep the pedal pressure constant. Speed, drift, speed, drift.

besides being extreemly anoying, it probably killed the gas milage and engine.

I'll agree with her

I'm sure she drives in the least efficient, most fuel intensive ways but the issue at point is false advertising. If the ads claim she should get "real world" 47mpg than she is right to complain -- after all she is likely driving like she always has in the "real world".

There is a game going on where car companies keep trying to one-up each other on fuel efficiency without any technological changes to go along with their claim. They have always inflated their numbers but it's getting out of hand and if it takes a lawsuit to rain them back in, so be it. At least make them admit in the ad that their numbers are the result of extremely controlled tests and "real world" averages are generally much lower -- saying "actual mileage may very" won't cut it when you also claim 47 mpg is the typical (aka real world) efficiency.

There have been grumblings

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There have been grumblings about the C-Max's inability to get near its advertised MPG for a while. This follows on the semi-scandal with Hyundai/KIA overstating MPG on several models and having to provide impacted owners with gas cards ( and similar lawsuits over the Honda Civic Hybrid in California (Honda was able to prevail on appeal, but other lawsuits remain pending elsewhere).

Example article on C-Max MPG:

Potentially the real reason

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Potentially the real reason why we see such divergence (in addition to archaic testing procedures) is mentioned in the article Swirly linked to:
"Mileage testing is typically done by automakers, following rules set by the EPA, which then retests about 15% to be sure its procedures are being followed."
I think we can honestly agree that no one is willing to foot the bill to have EPA test all (or even most) car models themselves. So while launching multiple class action lawsuits on something like this seems silly (as is the $5 mil pulled-from-the-sky damages demand), I guess this is one way to pressure automakers away from cherry-picking the best numbers out of their own internal test results for the window sticker.

Needs to sue state instead

Perhaps she is unfortunate in driving where livable streets etc types have made roads that increase congestion, fuel consumption, pollution, road construction costs, snow removal costs, and economic costs in lost productivity or psychological costs in lost leisure time. I'm talking about travel lane narrowing so drivers have to wait rather than go around turning vehicles, bump outs and bulb outs that don't reduce accidents but again result in more slowing and speeding up again, reduced radius turns also requiring more slowing and speeding back up, speed tables, less efficient traffic light timing, no right on red everywhere, no enforcement of jay walking laws, scant enforcement of bicycling laws, roads that promote jay walking, having to slow for bicyclists running red lights and wrong-way riding, and parking removal that leads to waste trying to find available parking in Cambridge and elsewhere, and pedestrians and cyclists who failed kindergarten and the lessons of sharing and fairness - motorists and MBTA bus drivers deserve their turn (right of way) on the road to be respected and not interrupted. So much waste for almost no data showing accident reduction.

Ford is not responsible for any of those, a-holes are.


Congestion was here and was rampant BEFORE bike lanes, etc. made the scene.

I know this because I have lived here - and cycled and driven here - since LONG before there were ANY bike lanes ANYWHERE.

Liveable streets has nothing to do with congestion, other than to MITIGATE it by attracting more people to other modes for shorter trips.


There is NOTHING the state can do that will fix that ... other than make it prohibitively expensive to drive at rush hour.

It's pretty impressive how

It's pretty impressive how committed he is to the idea that Boston isn't doing enough to accommodate vehicular traffic.

Makes me wonder whether he has a twin in, oh, let's say Bangor, Maine, who sits around complaining that the city spends too much money accommodating cars and trucks instead of building a proper subway system.

Mr. Kaepplein

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Mr. Kaepplein (Markk02474) lost is place in the Arlington Town Meeting in the recent election in part because he had pinned his hopes with the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Committee's opposition to proposed changes to Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington to, among other things, ameliorate conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. His association with that group and his posts on the Arlington town email list have turned many people in Precinct 7 against him. There were some new, less controversial, more level-headed people running in that precinct. It was easy to drop him like a hot potato.

So now you understand his crap about "livable streets slowing down traffic" (paraphrasing).

That makes sense. He's

That makes sense. He's probably the same guy I remember from when I used to read the Arlington List. "The only way to accommodate motor vehicle traffic is to make every street as wide as possible", like a broken record.

I'm glad he's not a plumber

He'd be railing against the Bad City/Town/State government forcing him to install low-flow toilets and completely miss the fact that the backups resulted from the 1/2" outlet pipe necessitated by the surrounding ledge rock.

You can't have a proper traffic sewer of a multi-lane road if it bottlenecks to two lanes 1/2 mile further down.

I've lived in Arlington for

I've lived in Arlington for 13 years and I'd be happy if they'd just (pardon my French) paint some motherfucking lane markers on Mass Ave.

Know why they don't?

When I lived in Arlington (14-22 years ago) I asked the town why they never painted in the lane markers in East Arlington.

The response: the road is only one lane wide in each direction.

Yep. One lane wide. They never formally made it two lanes wide in each direction, even though most motorists used it that way.

So, I have to laugh when people talk about "reducing a lane". Sorry, but that second lane never officially existed.

The proposed design for Mass

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The proposed design for Mass Ave in East Arlington *will* cause big traffic jams that don't exist today.

As a daily bus commuter on that stretch, I *really* don't look forward to every parallel-parking car bringing rush hour to a halt. Not to mention every double parked car waiting for a spot at Dunkin Donuts.

But I don't blame the proposed bike lanes. The road is so wide that there *could* be bike lanes plus 4 general lanes. They just chose to design it differently.


Cambridge has been actively removing VLMs (Vehicle Lane Miles) for about 25 years, starting with Mass Ave in Central Square. Lots more of the same has happened in the last 5 years in and around Boston and yet more is in progress, particularly on bridges over the Charles.

So, less road also causes congestion. Most places in the country use federal transportation tax money to increase transportation, not remove it. Here, its anti-transportation money, that needs to be carefully limited. Cambridge needs its Chapter 90 money cut so they can't afford to remove more VLMs. They don't need that money anyway because their zoning laws force their surface transportation needs to be borne by the MBTA.

Bicycling makes an insignificant impact on vehicular traffic. It is dwarfed by car pooling, MBTA use variations, telecommuting and other home based employment, and people having a job to go to or not. Bicycling is far below the noise level of vehicular traffic volume measurement variations.

Big Dig

Perhaps you were too busy yelling at cyclists on Mass Ave to notice that the state spent billions of dollars on the Big Dig, a project designed to speed up the amount of time it takes a car to move through Boston. The big dig was one of, if not the largest, transportation project this country has undertaken and it's all for cars. Enjoy!

As for slowing down traffic in town, yes, that is point. A lot of tax paying citizens have been electing people to government who with the requirement they slow down traffic and add more amenities for non-drivers. A lot of people move TO the metro Boston area because they prefer it this way.

Go to Texas, California, or just about every other state not founded in the mid 1700s and you'll find like minded people who prefer their local roads to have 50 mph speed limits. I don't like these places myself which is why I choose to live in "congested" Boston.

He doesn't have to go as far

He doesn't have to go as far as Texas. You don't even have to leave New England to find dozens of cities where virtually every transportation dollar is spent on vehicular traffic because that's all there is.

That's, like, virtually every city and town in the entire country with the exception of a tiny number of larger, older cities.

Five million dollars?

What math class did this shrew flunk out of? Yes, I read the part where it's "class action"...has everybody who has purchased this particular vehicle really overspent on fuel by five million dollars combined based on the actual MPG?

Then again

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If this suit actually goes to trial and is somehow successful, every person who bought a Ford hybrid in the past five years will get a check for a whopping $1.83 - once the legal fees are paid off, of course.

This is Massachusetts. Even

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This is Massachusetts.

Even on high-speed state roads, the lights aren't synchronized. So you go 50, hit a red, and just as it turns green and you get to the next light, it turns red as well.


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TV ad makes product seem too good to be true!
Car salesman lies to customer!

More at 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11...but first, the weather.

Veteran of a 2006 Lexus RX400h

I had 2 mile each way drives to work, and to dialysis. In winter, the mileage was low until arriving. V6 engine is a lot of cold metal.

Driving to Montreal showed the 55mph(29mpg) and 65(62)mph(25 mpg) speed penalty in economy. Boston climate is winter and summer. As soon as defrosters, rear window defogging, seat heating electrical drains are over it is summer. The AC compressor is electric. Burning gas to put electricity in the battery for engine off waiting at Menino's lights that are timed to require stopping at each light.

Particularly with 4 way Walk signals that happen whether the button has been pushed or not. At other intersections some pedestrians slap the button and walk right into traffic anyway. Boston, it's never too late to start crossing and holding up traffic when patient drivers finally have the green light. A Statie on Frontage Road pulled me over. He said I could have stopped on yellow! Fought and won reversal of that $150 ticket.

I know to expect to be underwhelmed by hybrid performance. Gas only SUV behemoths can have single digit real time mpg in the first 15 minutes of driving in winter.

Despite regenerative braking, the crossover needed a $2400 brake job for rotors and calipers at 30K mileage. I recovered some of the expense through an extended warranty on a car driven since 10/05 and still less than 40k on the odometer.