The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week took Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America to task for incorrect fuel economy (mpg) estimates for approximately 900,000, or 35 percent of, 2011-13 model year vehicles sold through October 31, 2012. The issue at hand? EPA testing found discrepancies between agency results and data submitted by the company on these vehicles, including a number of hybrid models.
EPA officials said, after getting a number of consumer complaints about Hyundai mileage estimates, its experts at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emission Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Mich. investigated and found “discrepancies between results from EPA testing of a MY2012 Hyundai Elantra and information provided to EPA by Hyundai.” As a result, the agency expanded its investigation into data for other Hyundai and Kia vehicles, leading to what has become a “voluntary program” by the auto brands to “adjust fuel economy ratings on select vehicles.”
For their part, Hyundai and Kia said that “procedural errors at the automakers’ joint testing operations in Korea led to incorrect fuel economy ratings for select vehicle lines.” These errors were tied to a process called “coastdown” testing, which is said to simulate “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.”
With the corrections that are occurring, which in most cases are just one to two mpg, the 2012 Hyundai/Kia fleet fuel economy level is being reduced by an average of 3 percent – from 27 to 26 MPG.
In order to try and make up for the error of their ways, what’s being described as a “a comprehensive reimbursement program for affected current and former vehicle owners to cover the additional fuel costs associated with the fuel economy rating change” is being put into play. Here’s how it will go down –
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 acknowledgment 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.
Vehicles which have yet to be sold will be re-labeled with new window stickers reflecting the corrected mileage estimates. Specific hybrids impacted by this fuel economy adjustment include the 2011 and 2012 Hyundai Sonata and the 2011 Kia Optima. For more information, Kia owners should go here and Hyundai owners here.
“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, said in a statement. “Following up on the EPA’s audit results, we have taken immediate action to make the necessary rating changes and process corrections.”