Hyundai and Kia have inflated gas mileage averages in many vehicles in their respective lineups as much as six miles per gallon, according to an investigation conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The two Korean automakers will be forced to lower their mileage estimates for many models dating to 2010 models and and face millions in federal fines and the probably of collective anger among car owners.
The most erroneous mpg average in the investigation in with Kia Soul. It’s advertised with an average 35 mpg in highway driving. In the EPA audit, the Soul averaged 29 mpg in highway driving. The Soul is currently one of Kia’s best-selling cars with an 18.1 percent sales increase this year.
Several trims of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Rio had overstated by 4 miles per gallon, and the Hyundai Accent was over-touted by 3 miles per gallon.
From Hyundai, other affected models included the Veloster, Sonata hybrid, Tucson, Genesis and Azera. Other affected Kia models are the Sorento, Sportage and Optima.
“I sincerely apologize to all affected Hyundai and Kia customers, and I regret these errors occurred,” said W.C. Yang, chief technology officer of Hyundai and Kia’s joint research and development center.
Executives of Kia and Hyundai said 35 percent of the cars they’ve sold since 2010 are affected by the investigation, which amounts to approximately 900,000 vehicles. They plan to reimburse affected car owners with debit cards.
Fuel economy has become the No. 1 consideration for prospective car buyers, according to a Consumer Reports survey released earlier this year
The EPA tests about 15 percent of possible vehicles each year, and relies on automakers to supply their own data for the rest of their fleets.
Hyundai and Kia vehicles currently on dealership lots will be re-labeled with revised window stickers, the EPA said.
For more details on the automakers’ plans to reimburse customers, visit HyundaiMPGinfo.com and KiaMPGinfo.com.
For specific discrepancies for all the vehicles, the EPA has assembled a chart at epa.gov/fueleconomy/labelchange.htm.