Bragging about getting 40 mpg can come back to bite you. At least that is what Hyundai and Kia are finding out following an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they had overstated mileage numbers for certain 2012 and 2013 model-year vehicles. On Friday, Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America issued a joint statement that the two companies would voluntarily adjust the fuel economy ratings for about 900,000 vehicles and compensate affected customers.
Hyundai owns a 38 percent stake in Kia, but the companies are largely seen as one car manufacturing entity.
The adjustment by Kia and Hyundai follows complaints filed by customers alleging that their vehicles failed to achieve the 40 mpg threshold the companies had published for a number of its vehicles. Hyundai had especially publicized its miles to the gallon leadership, issuing monthly press releases highlighting the percentage of vehicles that hit that coveted threshold.
Most vehicle lines are affected and will reduce Hyundai-Kia fleet fuel economy by an average of 3 percent or from 27 mpg to 26 mpg.
Offering an Apology
Dr. W. C. Yang, chief technology officer of Hyundai/Kia research and development issued an apology for what he described as errors in the calculating methods done in South Korea. Said Yang, “Following up on the EPA’s audit results, we have taken immediate action to make the necessary rating changes and process corrections.”
The EPA leaves it up to car manufacturers to calculate MPG in-house, using laboratory tests that simulate the driving environment. Those tests involve using a dynamometer with a vehicle’s drive wheels sitting directly on the machine. The dynamometer can be adjusted to take into consideration the vehicle’s weight and wind resistance, offering a near real-world number that manufacturers share with the EPA and its customers.
Following the recalculation of its fuel economy numbers, not a single 2012 or 2013 Hyundai or Kia model is rated at 40 mpg highway. Among the biggest drops published was for the 2012 Hyundai Accent, originally rated at 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway. That car is now rated at 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway. For Kia, its Soul ECO took a huge hit dropping from 28 mpg city, 36 mpg highway to 26 mpg city, 31 mpg highway.
For details about specific models, you can review the joint press release for old and new mpg data.