Ford’s Farley Says ‘Real World’ Mileage Key to Avoid Owner Anger

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Ford Motor Co.'s global marketing chief says the automaker is focused on high “real world” fuel efficiency in its vehicles after a California woman won a case against Honda Motor Co. for failing to meet mileage claims.

Heather Peters, owner of a 2006 Civic Hybrid, won $9,867 in small claims court in Los Angeles last week, alleging Tokyo- based Honda overstated the model's fuel economy. Honda has said it will appeal the ruling, and that the car's efficiency rating was determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“As fuel economy becomes more important, all the manufacturers are looking to be more dramatic in their advertising claims,” Jim Farley, told reporters today in Las Vegas at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention. “They're using the EPA fuel label as a third-party claim.”

Automakers are under pressure by the U.S. to dramatically boost the efficiency of new cars and trucks to an industrywide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, about double the current level. The companies also are working to satisfy demands for better fuel economy in anticipation of higher fuel prices.

Hyundai Motor Co., which touts models including the Elantra small car for getting 40 mpg in highway driving, also is being criticized by Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica, California, advocacy group for that mileage claim.

Like Honda, Hyundai has said it stands by the EPA's rating of the Elantra's fuel efficiency.

“I have no idea about how the satisfaction of customers and the difference with EPA and all that will play out in small claims litigation, but all I do know is the Ford team is laser- focused on real-world fuel economy,” Farley said.

Ford, the second-biggest U.S. automaker, is based in Dearborn, Michigan.

–With assistance from Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles. Editors: Joe Sabo, Sylvia Wier.

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