Kia, Hyundai's costly mistake

2012-11-06 06:01

WASHINGTON - A lesson for automakers: Hyundai and Kia must reimburse owners of nearly 1.1-million vehicles in the US and Canada after admitting they overstated fuel-consumption claims on vehicle window stickers.

Earlier in 2012 Wheels24 reported on a California woman who won a similar case against Honda.

The Detroit News reported that the issue affected 172 000 vehicles in Canada and 900 000 in the US and came to light after an Environmental Protection Agency investigation turned up discrepancies between the window stickers and EPA testing.


The automakers will reimburse owners for as long as they own the cars, plus 15%. Hyundai said a typical owner of a vehicle in Florida driving 24 000km a year could get the equivalent of about R770 for 2012 in addition to future refunds for as long as they own the car.

Now, because of the faulty testing, Hyundai is retracting claims that three of its four 2013 models are capable of about 5.8 litres/100km.

John O'Dell, senior green-car editor at Edmunds.com, told the DetNews: "Whether an honest mistake or a deliberate corporate effort to fudge the numbers, the fact that the companies' ballyhooed 5.8 litres/100km cars are no longer members of that august club — and that Hyundai and Kia are repaying customers who relied on the faulty consumption claims when buying their cars - will be something that haunts the companies for a long tim.”

Jesse Toprak, senior analyst at TrueCar, said the correction by Hyundai may have a negative impact on people undecided about car choice. "However, even with the correction, the fundamentals of what made Hyundai and Kia brands a success in the US do not change.”


According to the DetNews the automakers said the fuel consumption rating discrepancies resulted from procedural errors during a process called "coast-down" testing at the companies' joint testing operations in Korea.

Consumer Watchdog said that following a barrage of consumer complaints, it had asked the EPA to audit the fuel consumption of the Elantra in January, 2012. It ultimately filed a false advertising suit against Hyundai for widely advertising the "40 mile per gallon Elantra" (US gallon = 3.785 litres).

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog said in the DetNews: "The EPA rightly audited Hyundai and the public deserves to know the whole truth about why these test results were inaccurate and whether or not they were intentionally falsified.”

  • trevorlbennett - 2012-11-06 08:36

    Are we not victim of this here in SA? Are these claimed manufacturer figures not verified before they can be accepted in the market?

      raath - 2012-11-06 09:04

      Well, there isn't exactly a Fuel Efficiency Data Verification Board for this type of thing - it is hardly something which needs to be regulated.

      erik.p.vanwyk - 2012-11-06 10:13

      "it is hardly something which needs to be regulated"...I think its something that needs to be regulated asap,considering SA's high petrol price and the fact that the majority of people make a huge financial decission based on these figures.

      brak.jan - 2012-11-06 10:24

      Car manufactures makes very optimistic claims for their cars about fuel consumption, acceleration, top speed, etc. for obvious reasons. All new passenger cars in South Africa are required by law to display their fuel consumption (EU cycle) and CO2 output on a label in their window. You will rarely achieve these figures in real world conditions, but as the test that supplies them is standardized, it will help you compare different cars

      raath - 2012-11-06 11:55

      It is not the car specs which need to be regulated in that case, it is the petrol price. You can buy the most efficient car on the market, but still suffer due to high prices - especially when you drive like a maniac.

      brak.jan - 2012-11-06 13:42

      @raath – our petrol prices are already regulated, and overly inflated with taxes (+/- 40%). Won’t a deregulation of petrol prices be better? Then Sasol, Shell, Engen, BP, etc. can compete against each other for the best prices. Don’t think it will happen though, the current system fills the government’s coffers to nicely....

  • rory.herman.7 - 2012-11-06 10:19

    My Cerato claimed 6.7 litres on the windscreen. I challenge KIA South Africa to be able to drive my car 100kms using this fuel consumption figure. I have found this to be impossible, despite the most conserative of driving.

      brak.jan - 2012-11-06 10:49

      Rory, as far as I know, these figures are obtained using the 'EU' combined cycle. The engine is put on a dyno, and a run is done simulating a bit of city driving and open road driving. The figures are obviously unrealistic, but can be used for comparison between cars.

      raath - 2012-11-06 11:59

      VW claims a combined consumption of 6.3l/100km on the Golf 6 1.4 TSI. I managed to better that on a few runs: http://www.fuelly.com/driver/johnny1000km/golf So is VW correct with their consumption figures, or is it possible to achieve it on any car?

      brak.jan - 2012-11-06 13:53

      @raath – the system used to get the consumption figures are (supposed to be) the same for all manufacturers. The combined figure includes a lot of city (stop-start, sub-60km/h) driving, where was your figures achieved?It should not be too hard to get 6.3 with your TSI, but I think Rory will have to drive very conservatively with his Cerato to get 6,7 (assuming it is the 1.6 Cerato, 2l will fare worse). There are so many factors that influence fuel consumption....

      raath - 2012-11-06 14:37

      @brak.jan I got it during normal commuting - East Rand to Sandton and back. The 6-speed gearbox helps, and the engine too - it really is worthy of its titles. Keeping to the speed limit, using BP 95 octane, and keeping RPM low does help a lot. And when coasting, keep it in gear - it cuts off fuel injection completely.

      brak.jan - 2012-11-06 16:28

      @raath – awesome, very good engine that 1.4

  • freddie.jones.58367 - 2012-11-06 10:54

    Before Y'all loose your heads about 'claimed' and 'real' fuel consumption, please look up this site: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/realmpg/ For the USA version of the figure see: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/ A brief summary is: These figures will never be achieved in real life! As they are all achieved in lab conditions.

  • trevorlbennett - 2012-11-06 11:22

    Something comforting. http://www.wheels24.co.za/News/Environmental/BMWs-23100km-1-Series-20121106

  • verysourboy - 2012-11-06 14:05

    Oh thank the heavens I don't live in America! Those people would sue you for breathing in public if they could! None of my cars have ever matched their claimed figures, but you don't see me filing suit against Honda, BMW, mercedes, ford, hyundai, volvo or VW! I currently have an i20 which averages around 6L/100km, not quite what they claimed, but i never expected it to match those claims because it is very unrealistic to ever achieve the claimed figures in real-world conditions.

      maryna.vanrooyen.58 - 2013-02-10 12:55

      I am a very dissatisfied i20 driver. I have been a conservative driver for years and monitor my consumption with every fill up. I will be very happy if I can average 6L/100km. I don't even manage to get 8L/100km. If the cars can't manage the advertised consumption the manufactures should not use it as an advertising point as this is misleading and unlawful. I think we should be able to sue these companies as they are pocketing while I have traded in a vehicle which gave me far better consumption based on these misleading figures.

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