Heather Peters, who last week was awarded almost $10,000 in a California court in damages over claims that Honda falsely advertised the fuel economy of its Civic Hybrid, is delivering a petition to the 50 state attorneys general urging that class-action plaintiffs against the automaker bargain for a better settlement. As of today, almost 1,150 people have signed the petition.

Peters, who was awarded $9,867.19 in small claims court, said in a press release that Honda's offer of as much as $200 in cash and as much as $1,000 off a new Honda was "ridiculous," and that the plaintiffs could do better by opting out of the current class-action complaint. Peters said that the deadline to object to Honda's current settlement offer is February 11.

Last week, the small claims court commissioner in Torrance, CA, ruled that Honda misled Peters by estimating that its Civic Hybrid could get as much as 50 miles per gallon, according to the Los Angeles Times. Honda said it would appeal the decision.

In her case, Peters alleged that her 2006 Civic Hybrid never reached more than 42 miles per gallon and that the car's fuel economy dropped to less than 30 miles per gallon after Honda performed a software update on the car. Honda was the defendant in a class-action lawsuit stemming from the automaker's estimates of fuel economy for the 2003-07 model years, which were 49 miles per gallon city and 51 highway. Honda settled that lawsuit out of court in 2009, after which 26 state attorneys general called the settlement unfair because attorneys made more from the case than the defendants did.
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Los Angeles, CA - Fresh off her historic $9,867.19 small claims victory against Honda for false advertising of the Honda Civic Hybrid, Heather Peters is not letting up. Determined to push for a better class action settlement for 500,000 other Civic Hybrid owners, she will deliver her petition today to all 50 State Attorneys General urging them to object to the current proposed settlement of $0-$200 cash, plus a coupon towards another Honda. The deadline to object is February 11th.

With the help of some very loyal supporters, she collected over 1,000 signatures on the petition from all 50 states and DC in just 12 days! Over 250 comments were posted on the petition including:

"This car is dangerous! The amount of power is unpredictable"

"Getting 30 mpg at best plus with the software update, this car is not safe to drive"

"I sold my HCH last year because it became too frightening to drive"

Heather Peters says:

"Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg and my judgment against Honda for almost $10,000 proves that it is ridiculous for Honda to try to settle these claims for pennies on the dollar. The Attorneys General need to step in to object."

26 State Attorneys General united to defeat Honda's last attempt to settle these cases in 2009. This proposed settlement is not much better and it would now include a release of Honda's liability for a 2010 software update that reprogrammed the car to prolong the life of the $3,000 warrantied hybrid battery by using it less and using the customer's gas more!

Anyone who owned or leased a new or used 2003-2009 Civic Hybrid is part of the class action unless they opt-out by February 11th. Heather says hundreds of class members have contacted her through her website www.dontsettlewithhonda.org to say they are opting out to follow in her footsteps in small claims court. She is publishing her evidence on CD and has reactivated her law license to help her fellow Honda owners. A contact list is available on request for more than 80 of these opt-outs across the nation who are willing to be interviewed.

See Petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/urge-attorney-generals-to-object-to-honda-settle ment. See proposed settlement here: www.hchsettlement.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      So are car makers "gaming the system"? In the PC world, processor and GPU makers often 'game the system' by carefully looking at benchmark programs and then designing their processors to do great in the benchmarks even though they don't do so hot in real world applications. This has lead to independent reviewers using real programs to test new products instead of just using fixed benchmark programs. So are automakers tuning their cars to provide high EPA MPG scores even though they provide suboptimal results in the real world? They could even put things in their electronic control systems to detect when a test is being performed and modify the operation to work in a more fuel efficient manner (while generally operating in a less efficient manner to give test-drivers a feeling of performance). Could this be happening? Or has it happened for a while? Do EVs also underperform EPA numbers? It would be nice if some independent people could test this.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Heck, it doesn't even need to be an independent group of people testing the ECU update. The EPA could test with and without the new ECU update, and find out whether or not the new ECU update completely destroys MPG like many owners report. I'm absolutely certain they could find a couple of owners willing to let their cars be used for this test. The problem is that the EPA has no mandate to run a test on any used cars, and Honda certainly doesn't want to help. Honda could have already done the EPA test using the new ECU update if they wanted to. They don't have to wait for the EPA.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Spec, I don't think it's accurate to raise question of the fuel economy of all hybrids. How many cars out of all cars made massively underperform their EPA numbers? Just a couple. The 03-07 Civic Hybrid, the current Hyundai Elentra apparently, and........? A few others. Out of hundreds. The 03-07 Civic Hybrids also used the old EPA testing methods and in the 08 and newer models, went down to 40/45 or something like that. As far as car companies engineering software to make their cars detect when tests are being done and slip into 'high efficiency' mode...............I'm not auto insider but I think that's one analogy that doesn't keep its truth when carried over from the computer world. In other words i think that shizzle is hella wack.
        Actionable Mango
        • 3 Years Ago
        According to this court case, that is exactly what happened. During MPG testing, Honda had a firmware that heavily used the battery in driving. This resulted in high MPG but short life for the battery. In the real world, people were burning through the batteries so Honda released a firmware update that used the battery mildly. This reduced the MPG and increased the battery life. Because it's the same car, Honda didn't have to change the EPA MPG numbers. I don't know if gaming the system was intentional or what, but it certainly shows how easy it is to do.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Well if what she contends is correct, that is a serious allegation. One can view it as either the car was sold with a significant defect that should be corrected by giving them a free replacement battery or the car was sold with a fraudulent EPA MPG number. That is a serious issue as that can amount to many thousands of dollars more spent in gasoline over the life of the car. I wonder if this type of problem is becoming more widespread as the MPG number is becoming much more important with $4+/gallon gasoline. Perhaps EVs are even better than advertised against gas cars if lots of gas cars have bogus numbers. These 40MPG numbers often cited are probably rarely achieved since they rely on slow highway driving with tall-gears.
      • 3 Years Ago
      She works for Volkswagon.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hyundai, unfortunately you are probably next...
      John R
      • 3 Years Ago
      The link to the petition is incomplete. Here is the complete link: http://www.change.org/petitions/urge-attorney-generals-to-object-to-honda-settlement A fair compensation would be for Honda to reverse the ECU update and bear on itself the cost of replacing batteries. Or, pay owners for the estimated additional fuel cost incurred with the update. Faced with those options, Honda would likely recall the batteries and simply upgrade them with a more durable battery (maybe a slightly larger capacity battery?).
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