John True, professional jazz piano player from California, has filed a class action lawsuit against American Honda Motor Co. for misleading mileage claims of the Honda Civic Hybrid. The question that this suit seems to revolve around is whether or not Honda misled consumers with inflated mileage claims. Did Honda imply that it is possible to get 49 miles per gallon in the city and 51 mpg on the highway? Is it impossible to meet those figures? Those are the questions that will be considered in the suit. Sage Marie, speaking on behalf of Honda, said that the "vast majority of Civic Hybrid customers are satisfied with the performance since it delivers consistently and substantially higher numbers than comparable non hybrid vehicles in the real world. It is possible to attain the EPA estimates, and customers do all the time."
John True was only able to average 32 miles per gallon, which is WAY below the EPA's old estimates. You may recall that the EPA has changed the way that they do their testing to better reflect what drivers are likely to achieve in real life. Another question that the suit will attempt to answer was whether Honda knew that their car would not average what the EPA tests showed. If they knew that the car was not going to get those numbers, should they base their advertising around them? Also, some have suggested that Honda and Toyota may have written the software of the vehicles to perform well in the old EPA tests. If that is true, does it seem unethical to anybody? Remember, though, that nothing of this sort has been proven.
This may very well be the first time a manufacturer has been sued over unrealistic mileage claims. If this one is successful, it would not be shocking to see more like it in the future.
UPDATE: Read AutoblogGreen's exclusive interview with John True here.
- EPA does something about unrealistic mileage figures for new autos
- Your mileage will vary. On the new MPG estimates coming in 2008
[Source: The Detroit News]