When the Ford hybrid vehicle lineup hit the market last year, including the Ford C-Max and Fusion Hybrids and Lincoln MKZ hybrid, drivers flocked to fuel economy claims as high as 47mpg, and up to 108mpg-e in the case of the Energi PHEV variants.
Then came the disappointment that just added to an already-disappointed stream of car owners going after automakers and the EPA for overly optimistic fuel economy ratings. After parting with a few thousand dollars to increase performance and fuel economy, even by just a few mpg, most owners expect to benefit. Unfortunately, some Ford hybrid vehicles fell into this trap that even “your mileage may vary” couldn’t cover.
Ford hybrid vehicle technology is sound but, according to a press release yesterday, we can see that a reprogrammed hybrid control unit might bring things back under control and push those fuel economy numbers back closer to their original estimates.
Thanks to modern automobile engine controllers, Ford will be able to simply reprogram their hybrid vehicles to improve their efficiency. Some of the improvements include:
Increasing the maximum pure electric speed to 85 mph from 62 mph, allowing increased use of electric-only mode on the highway;
Optimizing the use of Active Grille Shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag under more driving and temperature conditions including cold weather, during air conditioner use and when the engine coolant temperature is higher;
Reducing the electric fan speed as a function of coolant temperature to minimize the fan’s energy consumption;
Shortening engine warm-up time by up to 50 percent to enable electric-only driving and engine shutdown at stops sooner after cold starts;
Optimizing the climate control system to minimize use of the air conditioning compressor and reduce the energy used in cold weather operation.
Of course, Ford includes the usual mileage-variance clause in this press release, but expects that most drivers will see improvements in fuel economy at highway speeds and in colder weather.