|Though most of the Hyundai and Kia fleet were off by only 1 or 2 miles per gallon, the Kia Soul was off by a whopping 6. I guess they had actual hamsters driving the cars when they did fuel efficiency tests.|
It was only the other day, when I was talking about Hyundai's minor slip in quality rankings, that I made the case that Hyundai's (and sister automaker Kia's) rise relied heavily not just on looking cool but also on building trust with car consumers. Hyundai went from being a laughingstock maker of cheap econoboxes (see meme #46) to manufacturer of smart-looking cars that are near the top of the safety rankings, among the most reliable, and yet remain some of the most economical cars around.
The thing is, Hyundai and Kia really can't afford to screw that up. You know, with things like this:
South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America overstated the fuel economy on nearly a million late model vehicles and will issue owners special debit cards to reimburse the extra money they are paying for fuel.To be fair, Hyundai and Kia are by no means the only automakers to have been caught making "errors" in their MPG ratings, and it seems they are taking a page out of Apple in the wake of its recent Maps app fiasco by just admitting they'd made a mistake and then offering a financial reimbursement:
The error was announced Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors the fuel economy tests by automakers.
The mileage on most vehicle labels will be reduced by 1 to 2 miles per gallon, and the largest adjustment will be 6 mpg highway for the Kia Soul, federal regulators said. Both automakers will place new labels reflecting the corrected mileage estimates on cars currently at dealers.
“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.”
The Korean automakers, which are siblings, and share automotive components and testing, said they had overstated fuel economy ratings for about 900,000 vehicles, or 35% of the 2011-13 model year vehicles sold through Wednesday.
They blamed “procedural errors” at joint testing operations in Korea for the problem.
“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.Don't worry, no administrative sepukku has accompanied that statement. But instead, Hyundai/Kia are going to give out personalized debit cards to owners of the vehicles, calculated to reimburse customers for the shortfall in the companies’ mileage claims and what the EPA has found is the correct number for combined city and highway driving fuel economy rating.
My mother has a two-year-old Hyundai Santa Fe, and I plan to help her follow up on this. In the meantime, you can go seek reimbursement yourself, at Hyundai and Kia, respectively.
It turns out our family Santa Fe is the wrong model year to have been affected by this. The Los Angeles Times has a nice pictorial on which cars are affected.