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Ford investigating problem with how it determines fuel economy and emissions


Ford Motor Company says it has hired an outside firm to investigate an issue raised by employees about the company's analytical modeling that is part of the process for establishing fuel economy and emissions compliance.

The issue is highly technical. The company says it is investigating the employee concern regarding the "road load" specifications used during testing done on a machine called a dynamometer.

Road load is a resistance level used in the testing process. As the EPA explains, it refers to "the force imparted on a vehicle while driving at constant speed over a smooth level surface from sources such as tire rolling resistance, driveline losses, and aerodynamic drag."

Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs says it appears Ford did not know about the problem and try to hide it.

"It isn't a matter of their cheating, like Volkswagen," says Krebs. "I read this as a plus, that it was found by employees, and Ford is taking action right away, before regulators come down on them and consumers complain."

Ford says it has notified federal and California regulators, and says "at this time, there's been no determination that this affects Ford's fuel economy labels or emissions certifications."

The first vehicle to be evaluated will be the Ford Ranger pickup; additional vehicles will be assessed as well.

UPDATED 9:54 am 2/22: This story was edited to remove the word "mistake" as how Ford characterizes the issue.  Ford says it is premature to call the employee concern about analytical modeling during dynamometer testing a mistake.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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