Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) said that they will be making some software changes to improve the real-world fuel economy for some of their 2013 model hybrid vehicles. These changes will be offered to 77,000 owners of the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Ford C-Max Hybrid, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The 2014 hybrids will get changes done at the factory.
The Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrids fell around 17-21% short of Ford’s promise of combined 47MPG in tests conducted by Consumer Reports last year. The Fusion hit around 39 MPG and the C-Max averaged 37 MPG in city and highway tests. The software change will not change Ford’s MPG labels. The dealerships will modify the software and it takes around half a day to perform.
“We believe these actions will provide our customers enhanced on-road fuel economy satisfaction,” said Ford product development chief Raj Nair. There will not be any alterations to the hardware. Customers will see improvement at highway speeds and during air conditioner user.
The electric-only speed of the vehicles will improve from 62MPH to 85MPH so that more highway usage will be possible. The electric fan speed will be reduced to help with energy consumption. The engine warm-up time will be reduced by as much as 50% to enable electric-only driving. The climate control system will be tweaked to minimize the use of the air conditioning compressor and reduce energy use in cold weather.
Ford is expanding their vehicle electrification engineering team by 50% to around 500 engineers this year. The company is investing an additional $50 million in electrified product development and testing centers in Detroit. The company’s battery-testing capabilities will double to 160 cells by year-end to speed development time by 25%.