(FILES) This January 14, 2014 file photo shows the Ford Motor Company logo at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Ford Motor Company will recall 915,216 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs in North America because of a possible loss of power steering, the company and US regulators said on May 29, 2014. The affected vehicles are from 2008 to 2011 model years. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDASTAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
Ford Motor Company announced Thursday it is lowering the fuel economy on six of its vehicles after discovering an error in its rating system. The company plans to compensate customers affected by the error.
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Ford customers who recently bought certain models in order to save money at the pump are in for a big disappointment. The car company revealed it made a mistake in measuring just how fuel-friendly some of its vehicles really are.

Ford Motor Company announced Thursday it is lowering the fuel economy on six of its vehicles after discovering an error in the rating system. As a result, the company will offer “goodwill” payments to compensate roughly 200,000 customers affected by the faulty ratings.

The six vehicles affected by Ford’s fuel economy rating error include three hybrid models: 2013- and 2014-model year C-MAXs, Fusions, and MKZs. Other vehicles affected include two plug-in hybrids, 2013- and 2014-model year C-MAX Energis and Fusion Energis. The final affected vehicle is the 2014 Ford Fiesta.

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Fuel economy estimates were off between one and seven miles per gallon. The Lincoln MKZ experienced the biggest drop with its initial estimated fuel economy falling from 45 to 38 miles per gallon.

In a conference call Thursday afternoon, Ford group vice president Raj Nair said the automaker identified the error through internal testing and contacted the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the correct fuel economy ratings for these vehicles.

A press release from Ford explained the error was related to a factor called “Total Road Load Horsepower” or TRLHP. This refers to:

...a vehicle-specific resistance level used in vehicle dynamometer testing that determines fuel economy ratings. TRLHP is established through engineering models that are validated though vehicles testing, including physical track tests referred to as coastdown testing…Based on coastdown testing of the Fusion Hybrid, the company found the TRLHP did not match the values used for the dynamometer testing.

Once Ford discovered the error, Nair said the company contacted the EPA and began collaborating with the agency to re-test and re-label the vehicles.

“This is our mistake, plain and simple,” said Nair during the conference call. “We have corrected the error, and are taking steps to improve the process so it doesn’t happen again. Nothing is more important than the trust of our customers.”

Ford will offer customers who bought or leased affected vehicles goodwill payments to compensate for the error. In an email, Ford spokesman Bill Collins said these payments will be “based on the difference in the combined fuel economy ratings, estimated average annual combined mileage, estimated average fuel prices, and estimated average length of contract (three years for a leased vehicle; five years for a purchased vehicle).”

Ford would not provide an estimate on how much this error could potentially cost the company.

Ford customers with questions or concerns can contact the Ford Customer Relationship Center at 866-436-7332 or visit www.ford.com/mpglabl and www.lincoln.com/mpglabel.