Estimating road load with regards to emissions and fuel economy calculations is the concern.
Dieselgate rocked the automotive landscape in a major way, and not just for Volkswagen. Several automakers ultimately came under scrutiny for various emissions-related issues, and the fallout led to a heightened awareness among manufacturers and government agencies over the accuracy of emissions testing. Now, Automotive News reports that a new Justice Department investigation is underway at Ford over the automaker's emissions certification process.
Specifically, Automotive News points to a recent filing from Ford with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. At the end of the filing is a mention of a potential concern relating to Ford’s U.S. emissions certifications process. The matter is said to focus "on issues relating to road load estimations, including analytical modeling and coastdown testing." The filing doesn’t explain what that means, but it does clearly state the concern doesn’t involve the use of defeat devices like Volkswagen had.
The filing further states that Ford voluntarily contacted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board about this matter back in February, and that the U.S. Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation as a result. In the filing, Ford also says it is "fully cooperating with all government agencies."
According to Automotive News, Ford allegedly identified issues in how it simulates the effects of aerodynamic drag and tire friction on fuel economy. The report goes on to mention concerns from Ford employees about incorrect calculations being used to create emissions and fuel mileage information that went to regulators.
Motor1.com contacted Ford regarding the investigation. Kim Pittel, Ford’s group vice president for sustainability, environment & safety engineering replied with the following statement:
"Our investigation continues into how Ford estimates road load as part of the U.S. fuel economy and emissions certification process. We are working with regulators and independent experts to complete a technical review, as planned.
We are working with and cooperating with a number of agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board and the Department of Justice about potential concerns involving Ford’s process for estimating road load.
The Department of Justice contacted us earlier this month to let us know that they had opened a criminal investigation. Ford is fully cooperating with the government, and we’ll keep them posted on what we’re finding through our investigation and technical review.
It’s worth noting that the Department of Justice in the past has taken an interest in fuel economy and emissions issues in the auto sector.
The investigation and potential concerns do not involve the use of defeat devices in our products.
Our focus is on completing our investigation and a thorough technical review of this matter and cooperating with government and regulatory agencies."
Source: Automotive News, Ford