Ford C-Max Hybrid

The Blue Oval may have to back off a bit from the green messaging. Ford has had to lower fuel-economy ratings on a number of 2013 and 2014 model-year vehicles, namely its hybrids. And that may force the US automaker to rethink some of its marketing strategy, Automotive News reports.

Ford has spent much of the year pushing its fuel-efficiency improvements, with everything from a Super Bowl ad saying its Fusion Hybrid gets "almost double" the fuel efficiency of an average vehicle (after the recalculation, it's now more like 75 percent better) to claiming the Fiesta is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid in the US (it's actually the Mitsubishi Mirage) to stating the C-Max Hybrid gets better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius V (it doesn't). Nonetheless, Ford doesn't plan on changing its mpg marketing emphasis anytime soon, the company said in an e-mailed statement to AutoblogGreen.

"Providing customers great fuel economy is a key part of our Ford vehicle DNA."

"Providing customers great fuel economy is a key part of our Ford vehicle DNA," the company said. "We will continue to highlight our vehicles features and attributes in our advertising and marketing, which includes fuel economy and fuel-saving technologies like EcoBoost and hybrids."

Earlier this month, Ford said it would lower the fuel-economy ratings of models such as the C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ Hybrids as well as most of the Fiesta line because of mistakes in the company's internal testing data. It was the second change for the C-Max Hybrid.

The good news for Ford is that its fleetwide fuel economy is up almost 40 percent from a decade ago, compared to an improvement of around 23 percent for Toyota. Still, while sales of Ford hybrids and plug-ins are about even with last year through the first five months of 2014, C-Max Hybrid sales have plunged 49 percent from a year earlier.

Earlier this year, Ford admitted that the first fuel economy downgrade had a negative effect on sales and we can find proof in the numbers. Before that the change was announced, in August 2013, Ford was consistently selling over 2,000 – and sometimes over 3,000 – C-Max Hybrids a month. In September, it dropped to 1,424, then to 1,438 in October. It didn't climb back above 2,000 until May 2014. The second mpg adjustment was announced in June.