While this represents a setback for Kia and Hyundai, brands like Toyota and Honda are looking to gain ground on the two Korean marques, which have been catching up to Japan's volume automakers thanks to their radically improved lineups.
In 2010, Hyundai began touting its lineup as the most fuel-efficient in America. This stirred emotions at Honda, a brand that had been the nation's top performer in fuel economy for 33 years. With this recent adjustment by Hyundai, Honda is evidently hoping to wear the fuel efficiency crown once again.
According to the report, the Korean automakers' errors came in the EPA's "coastdown" test, in which a test car is driven to 80 mph, put in neutral and "coasted" to 9 mph. Hyundai admits this part of the test was not performed correctly. According to Sung Hwan Cho, president of Hyundai's US technical center, "These were just honest procedure errors in a very complex testing process."
Adding to Honda's opportunity is the recently previewed 2013 Honda Civic, set to go on sale the same day it is revealed at this month's LA Motor Show. The 2012 model came in for harsh criticism from the automotive press, though the model's sales proved largely unaffected by the controversy. Industry analysts suggest that Honda's new (and presumably improved) 2013 Civic should put the automaker in prime position to reclaim both consumer mindshare and the industry's MPG crown.