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Hyundai, Kia face additional scrutiny from national consumer group

Hyundai and Kia are under further scrutiny. The nonprofit consumer group Consumer Watchdog is asking U.S. House and Senate Commerce committees to investigate false vehicle miles-per-gallon (mpg) claims against the two carmakers.

The non-partisan group called the revelation about some Hyundai and Kia vehicle mpg stickers by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “the first time in American history large numbers of vehicles carried window stickers with false mpg claims.”

2012 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America currently face two U.S. civil suits seeking class-action status after the companies admitted to making bogus fuel-economy claims.

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Consumer Watchdog said it wrote to the EPA a year ago calling for retesting of the Hyundai Elantra after Hyundai’s self-tested mpg estimates “were far different than many consumers’ experiences.”

In early November the EPA announced it had revised mpg claims and window stickers on many Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Consumer Watchdog is asking Congressional leaders “to delve into whether the misstated mileage estimates were a direct result of a marketing strategy by Hyundai to advertise four of its vehicles, including the Elantra, as ’40 miles per gallon’ cars.”

2012 Kia Soul

The consumer group called Hyundai’s 40 mile per gallon Elantra claim “the centerpiece of a massive television, print and radio advertising campaign aimed at convincing drivers that they would save money with $4 per gallon gasoline, when in fact drivers were routinely getting 10 miles per gallon less than advertised. Hyundai widely advertised and promoted its four vehicles that received 40 miles per gallon—the Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, Accent and Veloster—but all were reported by the EPA as having falsified mpg estimates on their window stickers.”

In calling for Congressional hearings, the group said the aim would be to ascertain how Hyundai arrived at its 40 mpg claims and “whether the South Korean company’s business strategy led to falsified mileage estimates submitted to the EPA and incorrect window stickers.”

Consumer Watchdog’s letter claimed the consequence of the incorrect window stickers “has been a loss in sales by American car manufacturers whose mpg window stickers have not been found to be false and who played by the rules.”

Hyundai quickly responded to the initial investigation with a financial offer. It agreed to will compensate owners for the error by calculating how much extra they might have paid in fuel based on this discrepancy (plus 15 percent extra) and issue debit cards for the difference.

Hyundai will also maintain compensation for as long as the owner keeps the car.

Hyundai has address the Consumer Watchdog current action, the manufacturer’s offer to its customers apparently isn’t sufficient based on the group’s actions.

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