Employee concerns cause Ford to investigate US 'road load' calculations
Ford has announced that it has opened an investigation into its process for certifying vehicles for US fuel-economy and emissions tests.
In a statement, Ford says that the investigation is not about the existence of "defeat devices," such as was the case in the Dieselgate scandal. The automaker is looking into its road-load calculations.
Road-load calculations are used 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.
The statement from Ford reads:
“In September, a handful of employees raised a concern through our Speak Up employee reporting channel regarding the analytical modeling that is part of our U.S. fuel economy and emissions compliance process.
"At Ford, we believe that trust in our brand is earned by acting with integrity and transparency. As part of this, we have a process for looking at how we perform and behave in our broad and complex company.
"As a result of the concern, we have taken a number of actions. Specifically:
"We have hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation into the vehicle road load specifications used in our testing and applications to certify emissions and fuel economy.
"Road load is a vehicle-specific resistance level used in vehicle dynamometer testing, including for fuel economy ratings and emissions certifications. Road load is established through engineering models that are validated through vehicle testing, including physical track tests referred to as coastdown testing.
"Ford has retained independent industry technical experts as part of our investigation team.
"This week, we voluntarily shared these potential concerns with Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board officials.
"The investigation and potential concerns do not involve the use of defeat devices in our products. At this time, there’s been no determination that this affects Ford’s fuel economy labels or emissions certifications.
"We plan to work with regulators and the independent lab to complete a technical review. As part of our review, we have identified potential concerns with how we calculate road load. The first vehicle we are evaluating is the 2019 Ranger; we are assessing additional vehicles as well.
"As always, we strive to be transparent with our customers, employees, dealers, shareholders and other stakeholders. We understand how important it is to all audiences that we thoroughly yet swiftly complete this investigation.”