It’s going to be an expensive 2013 for Hyundai and Kia. The Korean automakers are in hot water in the US after 900,000 of their vehicles across 13 models from 2011-2013 were sold with overstated fuel economy figures.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced both firms will lower their fuel economy estimates for the majority of their model year 2012 and 2013 cars. However the firms face a fight to win back customer confidence and have taken the drastic step of handing out pre-paid debits cards and other freebies as compensation.
The amount of cash allocated to each customer’s debit card depends on several factors including the average fuel prices for their geographic area in 2012, the mileage accrued by the owner, the change in combined petrol mileage estimates for their car and the fuel grade recommended for their particular vehicle.
Some Kia and Hyundais customers were reportedly delighted to receive the pre-paid debit cards, whose value is said to cover the extra gasoline they’d need to buy for as long as they own the vehicle. Others were less satisfied. Thirty-eight Hyundai and Kia owners have so far turned down the debit card offer and have filed lawsuits, which have all been combined into a single case at the US District Court in Los Angeles.
The value of the lawsuit hasn’t yet been disclosed, but estimates run as high as $775million. Hyundai is, reportedly, willing to settle while Kia is said to be considering its options. Neither company has elected to issue comment at the time of writing. Presumably they’re both busy counting the pennies.
Following this news, and a spate of similar incidents, the US Environmental Protection Agency has suggested it will more closely monitor manufacturers’ fuel economy claims. At present, just 10 to fifteen per cent of new cars are tested by the EPA to verity manufacturers’ figures, according to Autoblog.