A court ruled Nov. 12 that a lawsuit may possibly continue against Ford for misstating its mileage estimates of its C-MAX and Fusion hyrbid cars.
Ford attempted to dismiss the lawsuit based on its claim that the mileage estimates offered by the Environmental Protection Agency, have been in element, an estimate and that “actual benefits might vary.” Vehicle owners suing the automaker pointed to Ford’s media blitz that incorporated Ryan Seacrest in Instances Square with a bunch of billboards and T-shirts with the quantity 47 on them and “47 Challenges, 47 Days” advertising push and Facebook posts that the cars would achieve a “EPA-certified 47 mpg city and 47 mpg highway ratings for a 47-mpg combined rating” — among a lot of other 47-branded issues — when the vehicles didn’t come anywhere close.*
*Actual mileage did differ.
“Ford implicitly recognized that its marketing campaign was misleading,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas wrote in the ruling.
In their claims, auto purchasers who purchased Ford Fusion and C-MAX hybrids wrote that the automaker’s aggressive advertising and marketing claim that the cars could obtain 47 mpg combined was intentionally misleading. The reality that they had been selling their vehicles primarily based exclusively on their mileage estimates didn’t support significantly.
“Ford’s advertisements intentionally used these false and misleading statements to demonstrate that the fuel economy of the Vehicles was superior to other hybrid vehicles in the marketplace, such as the Prius and Camry,” lawyers wrote for the automobile owners.
In its motion to dismiss, Ford argued that the EPA estimates have been presented as estimates (OK, maybe the Facebook post is a tiny incriminating) and that actual final results might vary, so what’s the massive deal guys?
“’Your actual mileage will vary’ … is why the fuel economy figures transmitted to consumers are estimates, not guarantees, promises, legally binding offers, or warranties,” lawyers for Ford wrote in their argument.
Judges mostly rejected that claim.
The lawsuit could have attain effectively beyond the C-MAX and Fusion hybrids that most definitely did not obtain their mileage claims. (In 2014, Ford revised its mileage claims for these cars and mailed checks to owners to account for fuel economy discrepancies. Hyundai did the identical thing for their vehicles.)
Regardless of the lawsuit, what automakers can and can not say to sell vehicles is pretty opaque. According to court documents, automakers aren’t explicitly needed to inform vehicle shoppers that their “actual mileage may possibly vary” in particular situations.
The EPA demands that automakers present the agency’s fuel economy estimates on window stickers, with a mandated disclosure that actual outcomes could vary depending on how the vehicle is driven.
But the Federal Trade Commission, which has jurisdiction more than many marketing practices in the U.S., does not demand a disclaimer in advertising (but, of course, outright lying is not a excellent notion), which is what Ford claimed in its motion. By which includes the disclaimer, the automaker should be absolved of any allegations of lying, lawyers for Ford wrote.
The ruling could attain well into Volkswagen’s pockets in their upcoming barrage of civil lawsuits with regards to what constitutes “clean diesel.”
Civil lawsuits against Volkswagen claim, among other items, that Volkswagen’s claim that it was “clean” could massively backfire if courts determine that selling those vehicles based on their environmental influence could constitute a guarantee by the automaker.
In Ford’s case — at least initially — in spite of including a disclaimer in its marketing, the automaker may be liable for a fuel economy guarantee it never ever delivered.