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EPA Kicks Hyundai And Kia Out Of The 40 MPG Club

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On: Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 10:18AM | By: Chris Weiss

EPA Kicks Hyundai And Kia Out Of The 40 MPG Club

As is evident in competitive sports, where top athletes (we're looking at you Armstrong) are quietly but consistently breaking rules and ethics to get ahead, sometimes winning requires an edge. Hyundai may be the most fuel efficient brand in America, but it's been cutting a few corners to maintain that distinction. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently found that the Korean automaker overstated fuel economy claims. The agency found discrepancies between its own audit and the numbers given by the automaker. Hyundai and Kia will be busy taking the proverbial red marker to fuel economy stickers as a result.

In a joint statement, Hyundai/Kia call the issue a matter of incorrect fuel economy numbers arising from procedural errors. Some 900,000 2011 to 2013 vehicles sold through October 2012 are being adjusted. Hyundia/Kia will also "voluntarily" re-label vehicles in their showrooms. They claim that the changes will result in an average drop of 3 percent, down to 26 mpg from 27 mpg. The hardest hit model is the Kia Soul, which drops from 34 mpg highway to 28 mpg (2.0-liter four-cylinder automatic).

"The fuel economy rating discrepancies resulted from procedural errors during a process called ‘coastdown’ testing at the companies’ joint testing operations in Korea," the companies explain. "Coastdown testing simulates 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."

Because the issue affects vehicles that have been sold, Hyundai/Kia will reimburse those customers for the lowered fuel economy. "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," the statement reads.

They are also adding 15 percent to that amount in acknowledgement of the inconvenience (read: "Please don't sue us, and consider a Hyundai for your next car purchase").

While Hyundai offers plenty of reconciliation (and butt kissing) in its statement, it's interesting to note that the changes drop a number of models, like the Accent and Elantra, below 40 mpg highway. In fact, under the revised fuel economies, no Hyundai or Kia model boasts 40 mpg any longer. It's hard not to come to the conclusion that Hyundai fudged its results so that it could advertise the big 4-0.


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