Car Industry

Ford is investigating its US emissions-certification process

The investigation is about testing, not "defeat devices."

Ford is looking into the way it tests fuel economy for new vehicles, starting with the 2019 Ranger.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Ford announced Thursday that it has opened an investigation into its process for certifying vehicles for US fuel-economy and emissions tests. Ford stresses that the investigation is not about the existence of "defeat devices," as was the case in VW's Dieselgate scandal. Rather, the automaker is looking into its road-load calculations.

Road-load calculations are used for evaluating a vehicle's rolling resistance and thus for configuring dynamometers used to test for fuel economy and emissions. Engineers can check the mathematical models used to create the road-load figures with coast-down tests, which involve checking how far and for how long a vehicle continues to coast in neutral.

Ford does not believe thus far that any testing errors caused errors in terms of fuel-economy figures. "There's been no determination that this affects Ford's fuel economy labels or emissions certifications," the company said in a statement.

Ford opened the investigation after "a handful of employees" reported concerns about the tests in September. The automaker says it has hired an outside firm to investigate its road-load testing, as well as a lab that will conduct more coast-down tests. Moreover, the company is looking into "potential changes to our road-load modeling process." Ford also voluntarily shared information on its investigation with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board.

Ford is starting its review by evaluating how it tested the 2019 Ford Ranger, and says that it is also assessing some of its other vehicles.

There's some recent precedent for this type of investigation. In 2014, Hyundai and Kia paid a $100 million civil fine because they had miscalculated road-load data for as many as 1 million vehicles, resulting in incorrect fuel-economy ratings.