Just one day after reporting that Hyundai and Kia had admitted to overstating the estimated fuel economy on the window stickers of nearly 1.1 million 2011-2013 model-year vehicles, we’ve learned that a class action lawsuit has been filed in the United States. The case joins a Canadian class action lawsuit over the same issue.
The Korean automakers admitted on Friday to overstating the mileage on over a million Hyundai and Kia vehicles in North America since 2010, including about 900,000 in the U.S. The automakers agreed to reimburse current and former owners by giving them debit cards containing the additional money they spent on gasoline due to the lower-than-advertised gas mileage, plus 15%.
That’s not enough for some irate Hyundai and Kia customers, who filed a class action lawsuit in Ohio. The Hyundai/Kia class action lawsuit is seeking more than $5 million in damages and accuses the automakers of “knowingly or recklessly exaggerated estimated gas mileage and fuel economy rating information … in order to entice” the owners into buying the vehicles.
The Hyundai/Kia mileage class action lawsuit was filed by Canadian citizens Rebecca Sanders and Jeffrey Millar, who live in Cincinnati and bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra; and Molly Simons, a resident of Ohio who bought a 2012 Kia Rio.
Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford would not comment on the class action lawsuit but defended the Hyundai/Kia mileage reimbursement program, which could provide as much as $100 million in refunds to affected consumers.
“We think our reimbursement program provides the best, quickest, and most customer-focused remedy. We are fully compensating affected Hyundai owners for the additional lifetime fuel costs associated with our rating adjustment — plus a 15 percent premium. Owners have responded very favorably to the plan. Our priority is to make this right for our owners, and that’s precisely what this program does,” Hosford said.
The Hyundai/Kia mileage issue was uncovered during an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency that found widespread discrepancies between the window stickers on Hyundai and Kia vehicles and EPA testing. Most vehicles were receiving an average fuel economy of 1 mpg less than advertised, while others, such as the Kia Soul, were getting 6 mpg less than advertised.
Consumer Watchdog, a consumer group that asked the EPA to audit mileage of the Hyundai Elantra in January after receiving a barrage of consumer complaints, said it was happy with the results of the EPA investigation.
“The EPA rightly audited Hyundai and the public deserves to know the whole truth about why these test results were inaccurate and whether or not they were intentionally falsified,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.
The agency spearheaded a false advertising class action lawsuit against Hyundai this summer challenging the company’s “40 Miles Per Gallon” Elantra. According to the class action lawsuit, filed in California, the Elantra only gets 29 mpg on the highway – far below its advertised mileage.
“[The] illegal advertisements caused tens of thousands of California drivers to purchase or lease 2011 and 2012 Elantras and consequently incur unexpected fuel costs,” the Hyundai Elantra class action lawsuit states.
The U.S. Hyundai/Kia Mileage Class Action Lawsuit case is Sanders, et al. v. Hyundai Motor Company, et al, Case No. 12-cv-853, Ohio Southern District Court, Cincinnati.
UPDATE 1: Hyundai and Kia reached a $400 million class action lawsuit settlement in February 2013, which was announced in December 2013.
UPDATE 2: A group of breakaway Class Members filed an objection to the proposed Hyundai Kia class action lawsuit settlement, calling it “unreasonable” and “unfair” to consumers.
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