EPA Uncovers Hyundai/Kia Mileage ‘Discrepancy’

Photo by Alex Proimos, some rights reserved.

Today, we get to see how the EPA can impact 900,000 people almost immediately – that’s the number of car owners across the U.S. who could be affected the agency’s recent findings. Hyundai and Kia will lower their fuel economy estimates for 2012 and 2013 models after EPA testing found discrepancies between the agency’s testing and the companies’ data of up to six miles per gallon, the agency reported last Friday. New labeling on most vehicles will reflect only a one to two mpg reduction.

EPA’s audit testing, which also ensures vehicles on the road meet tailpipe emissions standards, occasionally discovers that the mileage listed on vehicles’ labels is incorrect, and requires the manufacturer to re-label – but this has happened only twice since 2000. Between 150 and 200 vehicles a year are tested, some randomly and others targeted, based partially on consumer complaints. EPA received a number of consumer complaints about Hyundai’s mileage estimates, and after it observed discrepancies between Hyundai and EPA testing data, expanded its investigation into data from other models, including those made by Kia, of which Hyundai is a part owner.

Already, three lawsuits targeting the Korean automakers have been filed. One, filed in the U.S. District Court for Central California, is seeking class-action status and $775 million in damages. Hyundai and Kia, though, have proposed a reimbursement program that reimburses owners for the difference between how much would have spent on fuel had the stickers been right (based on odometer readings and the old mileage estimates) and the amount they actually spent (based on the new estimates), plus a 15% ‘inconvenience’ premium.

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