Hyundai, Kia admit exaggerated mileage claims, will compensate owners [UPDATE]

2012 Hyundai Accent Five-Door
2012 Hyundai Accent Five-Door
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Hyundai and Kia adjusted EPA Fuel Economy EstimatesHyundai and Kia are lowering the fuel economy estimates on a majority of 2012 and 2013 models. The Detroit News reports a probe by the Environmental Protection Agency has found both manufacturers guilty of posting false fuel economy estimates on vehicle window stickers since late 2010. The companies will spend millions of dollars compensating the owners of some 900,000 vehicles sold under the claims. This marks the largest spate of fuel economy reductions in the history of the automotive industry. Prior to this probe, only two vehicles have seen their window sticker fuel economy values reduced since 2000.

Hyundai aggressively advertised the fact that the brand offers four models that boast 40 mpg, but that claim is no longer true. The 2013 Hyundai Accent, Veloster and Elantra will now see their EPA estimates fall to either 37 or 38 miles per gallon on the highway. The report quotes Hyundai CEO John Krafcik as saying, "We're extremely sorry about these errors" and blamed "procedural errors" in the company's fuel economy testing as the reason behind the discrepancy.

All told, 35 percent of 2011-2013 models sold through October will see a reduction. Of those, 580,000 will see a drop of around 1 mpg, while 240,000 units will have their EPA figures cut by 2 mpg. The remaining 80,000 will drop by 3 to 4 mpg. Owners will be compensated based on their vehicles' odometer readings, and both automakers will contribute an additional 15 percent over the dollar value. The funds will be awarded via prepaid debit cards. For an owner who drove 15,000 miles, an adjustment of 1 mpg would result in a refund of around $88.

For some time there has been suspicion that the Korean automakers' fuel economy claims were too optimistic, which most recently led to a class-action lawsuit filed in July of this year by an organization called Consumer Watchdog on behalf of Elantra owner Louis Bird of California.

The EPA and Hyundai have issued press releases on the new situation, which you can read below. You may also view the full model breakdown in the gallery below.

UPDATE: On a media conference call, Hyundai and Kia attributed the discrepancies to "honest mistakes" and "human error" during in-house fuel economy evaluations. Additional steps were added to the evaluation process in an attempt to ensure accuracy, which ultimately caused the higher-than-EPA figures. Both companies stress there was no intentional effort made to deceive either the federal government or consumers. There's no indication as to how much the apology campaign will cost, though Hyundai and Kia both plan to roll out extensive advertising campaigns to alert consumers of the issue.
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Hyundai/Kia to Correct Overstated MPG Claims as Result of EPA Investigation

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America will lower their fuel economy (mpg) estimates for the majority of their model year 2012 and 2013 models after EPA testing found discrepancies between agency results and data submitted by the company.

The auto companies have submitted to the EPA a plan for cars currently on dealer lots to be re-labeled with new window stickers reflecting the corrected mileage estimates. The mileage on most vehicle labels will be reduced by one to two mpg, and the largest adjustment will be six mpg highway for the Kia Soul.

"Consumers rely on the window sticker to help make informed choices about the cars they buy,' said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "EPA's investigation will help protect consumers and ensure a level playing field among automakers."

At its National Vehicle and Fuel Emission Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Mich., EPA routinely tests vehicles – 150 to 200 a year, or about 15 percent of the possible vehicle configurations – to ensure that their performance matches the mileage and emissions data required to be submitted to EPA by automakers.

This auditing helps to ensure that vehicles on the road meet tailpipe emission standards to protect public health and the environment and that all carmakers follow the same procedures for calculating mileage estimates. EPA conducts both random and targeted audits, based on factors such as consumer complaints.

EPA had received a number of consumer complaints about Hyundai mileage estimates. Through the agency's ongoing audit program, staff experts at EPA's NVFEL observed discrepancies between results from EPA testing of a MY2012 Hyundai Elantra and information provided to EPA by Hyundai.

The agency expanded its investigation into data for other Hyundai and Kia vehicles, leading to today's announcement.

EPA's audit testing occasionally uncovers individual vehicles whose label values are incorrect and requires that the manufacturer re-label the vehicle. This has happened twice since 2000. This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.

EPA and DOE are updating their joint fuel economy site,, to reflect the Hyundai and Kia corrected numbers.

For more information, please see:


Automakers' Average Fuel Economy Rating Reduced 3 Percent; Affected Vehicle Owners to be Compensated

ORANGE COUNTY, Nov. 2 – Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America today announced that, following discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they are voluntarily adjusting the fuel economy ratings for approximately 900,000, or 35 percent of, 2011-13 model year vehicles sold through October 31, 2012.

Procedural errors at the automakers' joint testing operations in Korea led to incorrect fuel economy ratings for select vehicle lines. As part of Hyundai/Kia's corrective actions, the fuel economy ratings for vehicles currently in showrooms are being voluntarily relabeled. With these changes, the 2012 Hyundai/Kia fleet fuel economy level is reduced by an average of 3 percent – from 27 to 26 MPG.

"I sincerely apologize to all affected Hyundai and Kia customers, and I regret these errors occurred," said Dr. W. C. Yang, chief technology officer of Hyundai/Kia research and development. "Following up on the EPA's audit results, we have taken immediate action to make the necessary rating changes and process corrections."

Both companies are putting in place a comprehensive reimbursement program for affected current and former vehicle owners to cover the additional fuel costs associated with the fuel economy rating change. Customers will receive a personalized debit card that will reimburse them for their difference in the EPA combined fuel economy rating, based on the fuel price in their area and their own actual miles driven. In addition, as an acknowledgement of the inconvenience this may cause, we will add an extra 15 percent to the reimbursement amount. Current owners will be able to refresh their debit card for as long as they own the vehicle. Prior owners of affected vehicles who have already sold their cars will also be reimbursed using the same formula. For more information about reimbursement and a complete list of eligible vehicles, customers can visit and

The fuel economy rating discrepancies resulted from procedural errors during a process called "coastdown" testing at the companies' joint testing operations in Korea. Coastdown testing simulates aerodynamic drag, tire rolling resistance and drivetrain frictional losses and provides the technical data used to program the test dynamometers that generate EPA fuel economy ratings. Affected vehicles and their before-and-after EPA estimates are shown in the attachment.

Hyundai and Kia will continue to advance improvements in fuel efficiency through technology and innovation, and continue to fully support the recent rulemaking issued by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Given the importance of fuel efficiency to all of us, we're extremely sorry about these errors," said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "When we say to Hyundai owners, 'We've got your back,' that's an assurance we don't take lightly. We're going to make this right for everyone, and we'll be more driven than ever to ensure our vehicles deliver outstanding fuel economy."

"As a customer-focused organization, we are fully committed to providing consumers with complete and accurate information, and deeply regret the errors were made," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. "Our reimbursement program is intended to ensure that all affected Kia customers quickly receive fair compensation."

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