TAKEN TO TASK: Ford SA has been ordered to rectify fuel information in its Kuga SUV brochure. Image: QuickPic
UPDATE: We've received a number of emails from readers. Scroll to the end of the article to read their responses.
Cape Town - Earlier in August, Wheels24 reported that a single European viewer complained to the European Advertising Standards Authority about an Audi R8 advert depicting speed behind the wheel.
Locally, a single complaint has landed Ford in hot water due to fuel consumption claims of its Kuga SUV.
A 'Mrs Haim' lodged a consumer complaint against Ford's Kuga featured in its brochures and on the link from its website, reports the Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA).
The advertising promotes all Kuga models, including the one in dispute - the 1.5 Ecoboost Ambiente. It lists the fuel consumption figure in "litres/100km” as "7.0”.
The complainant, stated that she is unable to attain the fuel consumption claimed by Ford and instead achieves 15 litres/100km. She claims that best average consumption she managed was 12 l/100km, despite taking the vehicle on the open road as suggested by a Ford sales representative.
READ: Can good road manners save you fuel on SA roads?
Attempts to upgrade the software has lowered the daily average to 12.5 l/100km, which though lower, is still substantially more than advertised and the respondent does not offer any further assistance.
Relevant clauses of the Code of Advertising practice
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were taken into account:
• Section II, Clause 4.1 - Substantiation
• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 - Misleading claims
• Section III, Clause 18.1 - Motor vehicle advertising
Are you experiencing similar issues with your Ford Kuga / vehicle? Email us or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter.
Ford SA responds
Ford, according to the ASA, said that it "needs to benchmark fuel consumption figures in a comparable manner due to the many variable factors that impact vehicle fuel consumption. As such, it conforms to the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) standards for fuel economy claims, which are conducted and ratified independently for the sake of standardised comparison."
"In independent ownership, fuel consumption is open to many different variables that render it difficult to compare individual economy figures. By way of example, geographic and climatic difference has the greatest practical impact. Road conditions and routes are factors in other cases, as well as individual driving styles, Ford's response continues.
READ: 11 ways to drive fuel efficiently in SA
"Accordingly, fuel consumption claims should be taken as an indication of a vehicle’s economy and not as a fixed figure obtained on every tankful. It is a means of comparing competitors against each other during the purchase consideration, the report continues."
READ: Ford Kuga brochure
In its brochures, Ford details fuel consumption claims along with a disclaimer:
"CO2 & Fuel Economy Note: The declared fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures were achieved during technical laboratory testing in accordance with the legislated technical specifications.
"Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures are used to compare different vehicle types under uniform conditions and are not necessarily indicative of real-life driving conditions. Note that the actual fuel consumption and emissions levels will depend on many factors including individual driving habits, prevailing conditions and vehicle’s equipment, condition and use.”
What's wrong with the disclaimer?
The ASA said that the notice appears on pages nine and 11 of the brochure while the claimed consumption appears on page ten. The ASA said: "The problem this poses is that there is a substantial amount of information presented, with a strong likelihood that the average reader would not even notice the disclaimer quoted above."
READ: The reason this Audi R8 ad was banned? One person complained
Are you experiencing similar fuel-consumption returns with your vehicle? Are you achieving fuel consumption figures as claimed by the automaker? Email us or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter.
"In addition, the consumption figure as it appears on page ten provides no indication, such as an asterisk or explanatory footnote referenced to this figure. This suggests that there are no special conditions attached to it, which suggests that it is reasonable to expect similar values when using the vehicle after purchase.
"While a reasonable person would understand that he or she cannot expect to achieve the exact same results in all circumstances, one would reasonably expect to achieve consumption within the vicinity of that claimed.
READ: Top driving tips - How to stretch your fuel budget
The ASA said: "Given the above, the Directorate agrees that the advertising creates a misleading impression about the likely fuel consumption, and that it conveys a consumption value that the respondent has not yet substantiated."
Based on the above, Ford is required to:
• Withdraw or appropriately amend the claimed fuel consumption;
• Action the withdrawal or amendment of the claim with immediate effect upon receipt of this ruling;
• Ensure that the claim is withdrawn or appropriately amended within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and
• Not use the claim in the current format again in the future.
Magaret Phillips: I am also a Kuga owner and also very disappointed with the fuel usage. I was told that when it reaches the 10 000km mark then the fuel usage should reduce but it has never. So I agree with the complainant.
Franco Oosthuizen: Also had the same problem. Did market research on SUVs last year June. Based on the Kuga's fuel consumption claims I bought the Kuga. Highly disappointing with figures of 9.5 litres/100km vs 6.8l/100km. I wanted to cancel the contract. Complained to ASA and Ford. After several e'mails /letters and visiting dealership no positive response...I just left it.