Car owner wins battle over false fuel economy figures

The Disputes Tribunal has ruled that the fuel economy figures claimed for a Ford Kuga car were false.

On August 7, the Tribunal awarded $6000 to Marton man Bruce Campbell, whose car used significantly more fuel than was promised by the dealer.

Campbell bought his Kuga from Wanganui Motors 1963 Limited after being told that the average fuel economy of the Ford Kuga Titanium was 7.7 litres per 100km. Despite multiple visits to the dealer, the best he could achieve was 9.4 litres per 100km. At one point the vehicle was averaging 12.9 litres per 100km.

The Tribunal referee ruled:

The evidence of the Ford Motor Company of NZ Limited that the expected fuel economy of the Ford Kuga Titanium was [actually] 9.4 litres per 100km persuades me that, even taking into account the factors that could contribute to fuel economy of a vehicle, that the [dealer’s] statement that the fuel economy of the Ford Kuga Titanium was 7.7 litres per 100km was incorrect and a misrepresentation, irrespective of factors that could contribute to a lower fuel economy.”

The $6000 awarded by the Tribunal was based on the owner’s loss of 0.75 cents per km over 8000km.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website, said the Wanganui case was the tip of the iceberg.

Our actual road tests show that it’s rare to find a vehicle where the claimed fuel consumption figures match reality.”

It’s important to realise that the fuel consumption figures quoted by the government and car dealers aren’t based on actual driving by actual people – they’re conducted in a laboratory by the car companies themselves. These figures are then passed on to the public as if they were gospel. In fact, the carmakers cheat most tests.”

A recent study by the respected British consumer group Which?, found that just three out of 200 new cars are as fuel efficient as the manufacturers claim. The study showed most cars fall short of their claimed fuel economy figures by an average of 13%. The two worst offenders were hybrids, which are supposed to offer vastly better economy. In fact, the claimed fuel economy of the Mitsubishi Outlander hybrid was overstated by 120%. The Outlander hybrid had a claimed consumption of 1.9 litres per 100km, but an actual fuel economy of 4.2 litres per 100km.

Similarly, the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid was supposed to use a mere 1.8 litres per 100km, but actually used 3.5 litres per 100km, 92% lower than the manufacturer's stated fuel use.

Other serious offenders were the Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 diesel automatic, with a fuel economy figure that was 55% worse than claimed, together with the BMW X4 diesel 3.0, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Toyota Yaris hybrid, all of which fell short by 33%.

The only three cars to reach their official figures during testing were the:

·       Skoda Roomster 1.2-litre, five-door, manual

·       Mazda 3 Fastback 2-litre

·       Skoda Yeti 2-litre, five-door, automatic diesel

Matthew-Wilson adds:

 “Consumers have a right to accurate information about the fuel consumption of their vehicles before they buy. It’s bad enough that the car companies lie; it’s worse that the Government helps them do it. The fuel economy figures quoted in the government’s Energywise website are based on the fantasy figures provided by car companies. The Government is effectively helping the car companies rip off consumers.”


The 10 worst offenders for false fuel economy claims (2015 UK Which? study):


Make and model

Claimed economy

Actual economy



Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, 2014-on

1.9 l/100 km

4.2 l/100 km



Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid, 2012-on

1.8 l/100 km

3.5 l/100 km



Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 diesel automatic, 2011-on

7.5 l/100 km

11.6 l/100 km



BMW X4, 2014-on

6 l/100 km

8 l/100 km



BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe 2.0, 2014-on

6.3 l/100 km

8.4 l/100 km



Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid, 2012-on

3.3 l/100 km

4.4 l/100km



Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 diesel, 2006-2014

3.3 l/100 km

4.3 l/100 km



Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 petrol, 2010-on

5.1 l/100 km

6.6 l/100 km



Nissan Qashqai 1.5 diesel, 2014-on

3.8 l/100 km

4.8 l/100 km



Peugeot 208, 2012-on

4.3 l/100 km

5.4 l/100 km



 Chart source:



Release ends. The Tribunal findings are attached.