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For Overstating Fuel Economy, Hyundai and Kia Will Pay Back Millions

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Fuel Economy Payback Time
Fuel Economy Payback Time

It’s one thing to say that “your mileage may vary” (YMMV) but, when confronted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at least a couple of companies have admitted to overstating the fuel economy of their vehicles.

The EPA doesn’t test every single vehicle to measure fuel economy, for the most part, counting on the manufacturers themselves to hand over the data. This freedom has led to some confusion which, in turn, has led to some disappointment on the part of drivers. One can understand their point of view, because of at least two reasons. For one, someone might spend a few thousand dollars more on the vehicle technology that makes future fuel savings possible. On the other hand, given the choice, someone might stray away from their preferred brand, chasing better fuel economy ratings.

In either case, failing to deliver on fuel economy promises is going to cost someone dearly. Hyundai and Kia, sister companies, have conceded that they did, in fact, overstate the fuel economy on a number of vehicles. The EPA investigation found that, between 2011 and 2013, thirteen different models were not performing as Hyundai and Kia suggested they would, YMMV notwithstanding. Still, some believe what the EPA really needs to do is update its fuel economy standards testing.

The vehicles included in investigation are the Hyundai Azera, Accent, Genesis, Santa Fe, Sonata Hybrid, Tucson, and Veloster, as well as the Kia Optima Hybrid, Sorento, Soul, and Sportage. Since the November 2012 investigation, Hyundai and Kia have been paying back owners of the affected vehicle around $88/year, a figure factoring the average price of gas and the fuel economy overstatement. This year, the two companies are offering a lump-sum payment which would average $353 for Hyundai vehicles, and $667 for Kia vehicles. The lump-sum payments, depending on how many opt-in, could amount to nearly $400 million.

Photo credit: bitzcelt / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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