Hyundai and Kia may have gotten lots of bad press for inflated fuel economy ratings, but the on-the-ground reality isn't all that bad. Automotive News says that dealers have been pleased at how the parent companies have handled the November scandal and the reimbursement programs are making customers happy and them back in the door.

Hyundai and Kia issues apologies for inflated fuel economy ratings on 13 nameplates from the 2011-2013 model years, which accounted for about 900,000 sold vehicles. Owners are being reimbursed for the "extra" gasoline they'll need to buy for as long as they own the vehicles.

The automakers have provided dealers with cash to help pay for gifts or other goodwill-related charges to please affected car owners. Hyundai and Kia dealers have been very active in the process – lavishing owners with apologies, free service and car washes. The charm offensive is working: reports say dealers have seen very little backlash. This meshes well with what we heard during the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, when Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik said about 90 percent of owners were happy with the reimbursement program.

One thing that has gone over especially well has been the debit cards. Owners were told to go to their local dealerships for mileage audits. After the audits, they received debit cards in the mail from Hyundai or Kia. Consumers can return to their dealerships for subsequent mileage checks in order to recharge their debit cards. Dealers are happy, too. "I'm thrilled with any program that brings customers back," Don Hobden, executive manager of six Kia dealerships in Alabama, Indiana and Kentucky, told Automotive News. "Some customers are actually reacting with some form of delight: 'Really? I'm getting a debit card?' It's been really well received."

Share This Photo X