The Ford Ranger is one of the vehicles under the spotlight for wrongly-claimed fuel consumption and emission figures. Pictue: SUPPLIED
The Ford Ranger is one of the vehicles under the spotlight for wrongly-claimed fuel consumption and emission figures. Pictue: SUPPLIED

Lawyers and prosecutors are already scrambling after US-based Ford Motor confessed that its published fuel economy and emissions figures were wrong.

While Ford has not confirmed how widespread the problem is, the initial focus is on the 2019 model Ranger pickup.

The company confirmed it had hired an outside expert to investigate how it got fuel-economy data wrong, with its confession leading to a slight dip in its share price.

While insisting it did not have a “defeat device” like the one used by the  Volkswagen Group to skirt official test procedures, Ford still faces huge fines and possible class-action lawsuits in the US.

Group vice-president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, Kimberly Pittel, said Ford employees raised their concerns that the mileage and emissions data given by Ford to government officials were incorrectly calculated.

Pittel confirmed Ford voluntarily shared the information with both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board last week.

A statement from the EPA insisted the information Ford provided was “too incomplete for EPA to reach any conclusions. We take the potential issues seriously and are following up with the company to fully understand the circumstances behind this disclosure.”

It’s not the first time Ford has messed up its published official fuel-economy figures. It was forced to cut 3l/100km from the C-Max hybrid’s claims — and compensate owners — in 2013 after customers complained they couldn’t match the published mileage. It then cut the claimed mileage from six other models a year later.

In 2014 Ford South Africa was forced to withdraw an internet advertisement that misled the public about the fuel consumption of its EcoSport crossover vehicle.

Highlighting the discrepancy between car manufacturers’ claimed economy figures versus real-world fuel consumption, the Advertising Standards Authority found that the advert did not sufficiently inform motorists that the quoted consumption figures were obtained in controlled test conditions and weren’t realistically attainable by customers.

There has been a major clampdown on fuel economy and emissions claims in the US since Dieselgate struck in 2015, costing the Volkswagen Group more than $25bn (R346bn) .

South Korea’s Hyundai and Kia were forced to pay $300m and paid out another $400m in class-action suits after misquoting its economy figures in 2013. The fine prodded Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Mini to lower their fuel economy claims.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was fined $77m this month after it failed to meet fuel economy requirements in 2016.