Ford paying $19.2M to Minnesota, other states in settlement over false advertising

Settling claims that it misrepresented both the fuel economy and payload capacity of some of its vehicles, Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay $19.2 million to multiple states, including Minnesota, as part of a newly announced agreement.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Tuesday that Minnesota joins 40 other states and territories in resolving the claims that will net Minnesota $320,000.

According to the announcement, Ford deceived consumers about the real-world fuel economy of model year 2013–14 C-Max hybrids, and the payload capacity of model years 2011–15 Super Duty pickup trucks. 

"With the recent spike in gas prices, Minnesotans place more importance than ever on the fuel efficiency of their vehicles," Ellison said in a statement. "Minnesota consumers trusted Ford to honestly represent their vehicles’ fuel efficiency. Instead, Ford used fuzzy math to make their hybrid cars appear more fuel-efficient in real-world driving conditions, and to make their trucks appear capable of hauling more than possible."

An investigation revealed Ford made several misleading representations about its 2013–2014 C-Max hybrid cars, 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 competitors models. The settlement corrects Ford’s deceptive advertising practices.

The state attorneys general also investigated Ford’s misleading "Best-in-Class" payload claims on its 2011–2015 Super Duty pick-up trucks, which include the F-250, F-350, and F-450 models. 

The settlement alleges 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.  

According to the settlement, 632 C-Max cars and 13,525 F-Series Super Duty trucks were sold in Minnesota. 

Ford has two previous settlements with C-Max owners in connection with its misrepresentation of EPA fuel economy ratings, ranging from $300 to $550 depending on whether the consumer was an owner or lessee. 

In total, Ford has paid approximately $19 million to impacted C- Max lessees and $16 million to impacted C-Max owners nationwide.