Hyundai/Kia Lowers Fuel Economy Numbers

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2011 Hyundai Sonata

If you haven’t heard, Hyundai and Kia have announced that they are they are reducing the fuel economy ratings for approximately 900,000 2011-13 model year vehicles sold through October 31, 2012.  They have begun a reimbursement program where owners will get a debit card that credits them based on miles driven and the cost of fuel in their area.

In some cases the estimated fuel economy rating was optimistic by a single MPG, in other cases it was significantly off.  As many of you know, my wife bought a Kia Soul Exclaim.  When we bought it, the EPA rating was 34 MPG highway, that has been reduced to 29.  Ouch.

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This certainly makes sense.  I have kept track of her car’s fuel economy and her Soul averages 29 miles on the highway, matching the new number.  I always wondered why she didn’t come close to the EPA number while many of the cars I test are in the ballpark, sometimes beating the official rating.  Now I understand why.

No doubt about it, this is a black eye for both companies. Hyundai claims “the fuel economy rating discrepancies resulted from procedural errors during a process called “coastdown” testing at the companies’ joint testing operations in Korea”.  But they will be judged in the court of popular opinion and I’ve already heard from a number of owners who are angry and feel the company knew it was happening all along.  It will be interesting to see how they manage this situation in the coming months

In the meantime, the info packed press release is posted below.   Or you can just go to the Hyundai or Kia website for more information.

HYUNDAI AND KIA INITIATE VOLUNTARY PROGRAM
TO ADJUST FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS ON SELECT VEHICLES

Automakers’ Average Fuel Economy Rating Reduced 3 Percent; Affected Vehicle Owners to be Compensated

ORANGE COUNTY, Nov. 2 – Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America today announced that, following discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they are voluntarily adjusting the fuel economy ratings for approximately 900,000, or 35 percent of, 2011-13 model year vehicles sold through October 31, 2012.

Procedural errors at the automakers‟ joint testing operations in Korea led to incorrect fuel economy ratings for select vehicle lines. As part of Hyundai/Kia‟s corrective actions, the fuel economy ratings for vehicles currently in showrooms are being voluntarily relabeled. With these changes, the 2012 Hyundai/Kia fleet fuel economy level is reduced by an average of 3 percent – from 27 to 26 MPG.

“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. “Following up on the EPA‟s audit results, we have taken immediate action to make the necessary rating changes and process corrections.”

Both companies are putting in place a comprehensive reimbursement program for affected current and former vehicle owners to cover the additional fuel costs associated with the fuel economy rating change. Customers will receive a personalized debit card that will reimburse them for their difference in the EPA combined fuel economy rating, based on the fuel price in their area and their own actual miles driven. In addition, as an acknowledgement of the inconvenience this may cause, we will add an extra 15 percent to the reimbursement amount. Current owners will be able to refresh their debit card for as long as they own the vehicle. Prior owners of affected vehicles who have already sold their cars will also be reimbursed using the same formula. For more information about reimbursement and a complete list of eligible vehicles, customers can visit www.HyundaiMPGinfo.com and www.KiaMPGinfo.com.

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. Affected vehicles and their before-and-after EPA estimates are shown in the attachment.

Hyundai and Kia will continue to advance improvements in fuel efficiency through technology and innovation, and continue to fully support the recent rulemaking issued by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Given the importance of fuel efficiency to all of us, we‟re extremely sorry about these errors,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “When we say to Hyundai owners, „We‟ve got your back,‟ that‟s an assurance we don‟t take lightly. We‟re going to make this right for everyone, and we‟ll be more driven than ever to ensure our vehicles deliver outstanding fuel economy.”

“As a customer-focused organization, we are fully committed to providing consumers with complete and accurate information, and deeply regret the errors were made,” said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. “Our reimbursement program is intended to ensure that all affected Kia customers quickly receive fair compensation.”

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HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 800 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5- year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle warranty, Hyundai‟s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Information about Hyundai Motor America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – www.hyundai.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.hyundainews.com.

KIA MOTORS AMERICA

Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies1 in the U.S. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.

Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.

1 Based on 5-year cumulative growth between 12-month retail sales for periods ending September 2007 and September 2012 of all U.S. automotive brands.

6 Comments

  1. jchasp says:

    Chevy will probably be next with the Sonic 1.4L/6spd manual. I’ve never gotten close to the claimed 40 mpg highway in 7 months/9K miles of ownership. The best that I’m able to average on 100% highway driving is 36 mpg, regardless of the fuel I use, or time of year/temperature. In every day driving (70% hwy/30% city) I get 33 mpg, and have seen as low as 27 mpg on several tanks. Also, the trip computer is 3-4 mpg optimistic. I’m a very conservative driver, and believe that this car’s mpg ability has been vastly overstated, as well!

    • Facepalm says:

      Funny you mentioned the Sonic, as I just watched Steve Hammes’ review of it on YouTube earlier today and he got about 26.4 average MPG. Most of the time he gets above the city MPG numbers and close to if not better than the combined MPG numbers. Granted, it was cold during his week of driving it, but one would think that the numbers should have been higher.

      Maybe the methods of testing a car’s fuel efficiency are becoming obsolete (also considering that some cars get well over the rated fuel economy numbers)… Or maybe it’s car brands trying to make their cars seem more appealing. I’d like to believe the former, if anything.

      A shame about the Sonic, though. If I were shopping for a subcompact that would have been one of my main candidates, but now I am not so sure after hearing not-so-great feedback on its fuel economy.

  2. gregd01 says:

    I read yesterday that Ford is now being audited because of a large number of complaints regarding mileage related to both the C-Max and Fusion hybrid.

    • TV says:

      Yeah. Funny, I was talking with a writer from one of the big auto sites a few weeks ago and he said their long term hybrids were not getting anywhere close to the EPA numbers. Stay tuned…

  3. Smeg says:

    The difference with your wife’s Soul is huge.

    The only explanation is by the process of “coastdown” they must mean they filled the tanks, towed the Soul to the top of a large mountain, let it “coastdown” and then measured the fuel consumption when it got to the bottom.

  4. Facepalm says:

    I remember hearing about how the Kia Soul’s fuel economy increased following its slight refresh a couple of years ago… Right around the time Hyundai and Kia’s fuel economy testing supposedly became a bit inaccurate. The Soul’s engine had the same amount of HP and torque, if not more than previously, but the fuel efficiency somehow increased. Some brands manage to do this through much tinkering with the engine and transmission, but it seems like the exaggerated numbers with the Kia were the result of erroneous testing and not as much due to tweaking and improving things… although they did improve the automatic transmission to six gears from four, I think. That helps, but last I heard it alone doesn’t boost fuel economy numbers by as much as 5 MPG or however many the Soul improved by. In hindsight, it sort of makes sense now how the numbers “increased.”

    This also explains why virtually every automotive reviewer or media group I’ve seen test Hyundais or Kias never really come close to the average fuel economy. Everything was always way, way lower than expected. I recall MotorTrend wanted to see if the Elantra could really get 40 MPG on the highway (since they never neared it before) and they had to really baby the car and use every trick in the book to get it. Made you wonder at the time.

    Definitely a black eye for the two companies. Hyundai and Kia are going to have to come up with something else for their ads now that they can’t really say they have class-leading MPG vehicles (for the most part, as far as I know). Overall they’re still pretty good deals in terms of value.