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February 22, 2019

Ford probes its own US fuel economy and emissions testing

Ford has said it is to conduct an investigation after concerns raised by its own employees over the 'analytical modelling' standards that it employs as part of its US fuel economy and emissions compliance process.

By Sam Duke

Ford has said it is to conduct an investigation after concerns raised by its own employees over the ‘analytical modelling’ standards that it employs as part of its US fuel economy and emissions compliance process.

In the wake of VW’s unprecedented ‘dieselgate’ scandal, the Ford development will undoubtedly raise concerns over how serious the resultant inaccuracies, if found, could be and the consequences for the company and its reputation. Ford is hiring an external firm to look into ‘vehicle road load specification’ used in its testing procedures.

However, Ford did say that the investigation and potential concerns “do not involve the use of defeat devices in our products”. That will provide some reassurance. The company also said that there’s been “no determination that this affects Ford’s fuel economy labels or emissions certifications”. Ford will be praying it stays that way.

Ford said the concerns were raised by a ‘handful of employees’ in September via a ‘Speak Up’ employee report.

Kim Pittel, group vice president, Sustainability, Environment & Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company, said in a statement: “In September, a handful ofemployees raised a concern through our Speak Up employee reporting channel regarding the analytical modeling that is part of our U.S. fuel economy and emissions compliance process. At Ford, we believethat trust in our brandis earned by acting with integrity and transparency. As part of this, we have a process for looking at how we perform and behave in our broad and complex company.

“As a result of the concern, we have taken a number of actions. Specifically:

  • We have hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation into the vehicle road load specifications used in our testing and applications to certify emissions and fuel economy. Road load is a vehicle-specific resistance level used in-vehicle dynamometer testing, including for fuel economy ratings and emissions certifications. Road load is established through engineering models that are validated through vehicle testing, including physical track tests referred to as coastdown testing.
  • Ford has retained independent industry technical experts as part of our investigation team.
  • We are hiring an independent lab to conduct further coastdown testing as part of our investigation.
  • Ford also is evaluating potential changes to our road-load modeling process, including engineering, technical and governance components.
  • This week, we voluntarily shared these potential concerns with Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board officials.

“The investigation and potential concerns do not involve the use of defeat devices in our products. At this time, there’s been no determination that this affects Ford’s fuel economy labels or emissions certifications. We plan to work with regulators and the independent lab to complete a technical review.

“As part of our review, we have identified potential concerns with how we calculate road load. The first vehicle we are evaluating is the 2019 Ranger; we are assessing additional vehicles as well.

“As always, we strive to be transparent with our customers, employees, dealers, shareholders and other stakeholders.We understand how important it is to all audiences that we thoroughly yet swiftly complete this investigation.”

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