By David Thomas on November 2, 2012
Hyundai and Kia announced today they would reimburse owners of about 900,000 vehicles for misstated mileage ratings.
The news came after an investigation by the EPA into complaints from consumers that the two companies' mileage claims were inflated. As a result, the stated mpg ratings for 75 different trim levels over three model years will be changed, and window stickers of cars on sale will be replaced to reflect the new numbers.
The investigation began when the EPA received complaints from owners of the 2012 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan who said that they were not seeing gas mileage near the stated numbers. Once the EPA’s investigators confirmed a discrepancy, they broadened the audit to the rest of the vehicles.
Hyundai and Kia are owned by the same parent company in South Korea but operate separately in the U.S. Both have seen phenomenal growth in the past few years, not just because of improved styling and quality, but also for their exceptional fuel economy.
The changes affect the 2011-2013 model years with mileage ratings dropping from 1 to 6 mpg on the highway. Combined mileage ratings were more accurate with seven of the 43 Hyundai models and four of the 32 Kia models seeing no change in combined mileage after the audit. Twenty-four of the 43 Hyundais showed a difference of 1 mpg combined, while 11 of the 32 Kias were within 1 mpg of the original rating.
The company explained the error this way: "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."
The two brands will announce a reimbursement program for current and former owners of the vehicles. A personalized debit card will be issued that will calculate the difference based on fuel prices and miles driven, plus 15% as a mea culpa from the automakers.
Will it be enough to satisfy consumers? That’s a question that will be asked nationwide as owners digest the news.
Below are the breakdowns of every vehicle impacted in the change, provided to Cars.com by Hyundai/Kia. We’ll have much more on this story as it develops throughout the day and coming weeks. If you have a question you’d like answered, leave it in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David