Ford Sued over Use of Hybrid Technology


Ford C-Max Energi near Courthouse Towers

Ford C-Max Energi near Courthouse Towersin Arches National Park.

Paice LLC filed a lawsuit yesterday, February 19, 2014, claiming the C-Max and other Ford Hybrids infringe its patents on electric and internal combustion engine optimization to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions without a loss of performance.  Ford licensed one patent in a 2010 agreement.  The companies agreed not to litigate over other patents until January 1, 2014 to give time for a settlement.  Apparently, the companies couldn’t agree on a settlement.  Ford, seeking to preempt the lawsuit, filed a complaint in December in the Delaware Chancery Court seeking a court ruling that Paice couldn’t file a complaint under the terms of their 2010 agreement.  Paice has also sued Hyundai and Kia over the same patents.

A July 19, 2010, article in TechCrunch said, “Paice calls itself a ‘startup technology development’ firm. Because it doesn’t manufacture the technology it tests, patents and promotes, many have accused Paice of being ‘patent trolls.'”

An interesting article was published October 5, 2009 by HybridCars explaining the Toyota and Paice hybrid patent claims.  The lawsuit filed by Paice against Ford may have some aspects in common.

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How To Improve MPG with The Ford C-Max

C-Max Gas Cap

Improving MPG with the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi

By writing this blog, I am not stating there is not a problem with the C-Max resulting in lower than expected MPG.  I don’t know.  Many owners of the C-Max Hybrid are reporting lower than the EPA MPG for the C-Max Hybrid, a story I first wrote about in November.  The ConsumerReports tests brought it to the attention of the media in December and a class action lawsuit followed later in the month.  I pointed out that the lawsuit had an error stating Hyundai sold the C-Max.  I’ve also written a blog on understanding the EPA MPG measurement method.   As I’ve written these blogs, I’ve written about methods to improve the MPG for C-Max drivers.  I decided it was important to collect these ideas in one location.  This blog will be continuously updated as information is obtained.  Please add suggestions for obtaining better MPG in the comments.

Understand the Instrument Panel Displays.

Instrument Panel Cluster Display

Energi Instrument Panel Overview, Short Version

Energi Instrument Panel Overview, Long Version

Energi Display Mode: Range, Inform, Enlighten, Engage, Empower and MyView

Energi, EV Now, EV Later, and Auto EV

Energi EV Range and Instantaneous Fuel Gauge

Fuel Economy Menu in Instrument Panel Cluster Display

Trip and Lifetime Summary

Setting Trip Data

Use the Brake Coach.

Use EV+ and ECO Cruise Control. Do not turn them off.  Let the C-Max learn common GPS locations to improve MPG.

Learn “Pulse and glide” and other techniques that hybrid owners use to get better MPG.  The effectiveness of these methods could vary depending on the hybrid.  I have not tested them with the C-Max Hybrid or Energi.  A good article for ideas is, “Hypermiling (Saving Lots of Fuel) in a Hybrid; How to Get Maximum Fuel Mileage From Your Hybrid.”    Another good blog on improving fuel economy, “Beating the EPA – The Why’s and How to Hypermile”, was posted by Wayne Gerdes at

Do not drive aggressively.  This includes accelerating rapidly from a stop, braking hard at the last possible second, and weaving to change lanes to get around other cars.  Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 5 to 33 percent.  Anticipate traffic conditions, curving roads, and traffic lights to minimize braking.  Let up on the gas pedal early to minimize braking.

Slow down to the speed limit.  Speeding can affect fuel economy by 7 to 25 percent.  MPG decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.  It appears as though there is a big difference with the C-Max driving at 60 and just a few mph faster, e.g., 64 mph.  The C-Max Hybrid cannot drive more than 62 mph in EV mode.  The C-Max Energi can drive up to 85 mph in EV mode.  However, driving at high speeds will still use kWh much faster than lower speeds with the Energi.  Reducing your speed from 65 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by 10 to 15 percent.  Reducing your speed from 70 to 55 mph can improve your fuel economy by 25 percent.

Remove excess weight.  Excess weight can reduce mpg by 1-4 percent per 100 pounds.  It affects the C-Max more than large vehicles.

Use cruise control.  Maintaining a constant speed will save gas in most instances.  When driving with cruise control, it is easier to control the maximum speed too.  The C-Max will display the mpg while driving.  To maximize fuel efficiency, set the cruise control speed within the legal speed limit to maximize the mpg on the display.

Use the air conditioner only when needed.  Using the AC reduces fuel economy by up to 15 percent.  In a city, roll down windows and turn the AC off.  Driving above 50 mph with the windows down will increase drag and decrease fuel efficiency more than using the AC.  When using AC, the recirculation setting reduces the air that must be chilled from outside the car.  Using just the fan to circulate unchilled air is more efficient than using the AC.

Start driving when the engine starts.  Modern engines do not need to warm up.  The car warms up faster when the car is running.  However, the engine is most efficient when warm.  Combine trips when possible to avoid infrequent short trips starting with a cold engine.

Keep the tires properly inflated.  Michelin Energy Saver Tires should be on the car when you buy it.  There is a discussion of other tires that may be far less fuel efficient being used on some new cars at the PriusChat forum.

Perform scheduled maintenance.

Do not add external accessories which can affect aerodynamic drag.  Bike carriers, luggage racks, and flags increase aerodynamic drag and lower MPG.  Driving with your windows open above about 50 mph will increase aerodynamic drag and decrease MPG.  The advantage of using the A/C less will be lost to worse aerodynamics for the car.

After your engine warms up, drive it.  There is no need to let it warm up.

Now, as Daniel Gray of said in a video, “Get your foot off the gas and let gravity do it’s work.”

C-Max Energi Empower Gauge

Learning to use the Empower gauge is important to improve mpg with the C-Max.

This article was first published on January 5th, 2013.  It was updated on January 16th, 2013.


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C-Max Hybrid Owner Starts Class-Action Suit Against Ford Over MPG

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi

A 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid owner sued Ford over the 47 mpg EPA test claim.

There’s been a multitude of articles discussing owners and journalists getting less than EPA mpg with the Ford C-Max.  I first wrote about this November 18th, 2012.  The media storm hit when ConsumerReports claimed, “Tests show Ford Fusion, C-Max Hybrids don’t live up to 47-mpg claims.”  I also wrote a blog on “Understanding the Ford C-Max and EPA MPG.”  It was my attempt to help C-Max owners and prospective owners understand the EPA MPG claims better.  Now, Richard Pitkin, who bought a C-Max Hybrid October 30th, 2012 at Folsom Lake Ford in California has started a class-action suit against Ford (lawsuit here).  The suit’s complaints are: Violation of unfair business practices, Violation of false advertising laws, Violation of California’s consumer legal remedies act, Fraud, Negligent misrepresentation, and Deceit.  According to Autobloggreen, the same law firm, McCuneWright, is also the firm suing Hyundai.


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