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Rockefeller wants answers on how the automakers plan to reach their customers by December 14, 2012

Hyundai Motors Co. and Kia Motors are both in hot water over exaggerated estimated gas mileage claims, and the senate wants answers. 

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee who oversees auto issues, wants Hyundai and Kia to explain how it will reach and compensate its 900,000 customers after inflating its MPG claims. 

So far, Hyundai and Kia have said they would reimburse customers and add a 15 percent premium by sending out debit cards that can be reloaded in the future. The automakers could spend over $100 million compensating for their exaggerations. 

"While I believe this is a positive step, I am concerned that many affected customers may not learn about the program or may find it burdensome to participate in the program," said Rockefeller. 

Rockefeller wants answers on how the automakers plan to reach these customers by December 14, 2012.

The Kia Soul got hit hard with the revised EPA ratings

Back in December 2011, Consumer Watchdog called on the EPA to investigate Hyundai over its fuel economy claims. Hyundai claimed that its Elantra achieved 29 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on highway. However, the organization received a higher-than-usual number of complaints that real-world mileage was in the mid-20 mpg range.

From there, the EPA investigated Hyundai for misleading mileage claims and found that the fuel economy estimates of most of its 2012-2013 models were inflated. The same goes for Kia. Both Kia and Hyundai will be lowering the fuel economy estimates on the majority of their 2012 to 2013 models after EPA testing discovered a gap between its data and what both of the companies are claiming.

Hyundai and Kia admitted to overstating the estimated fuel economy on window stickers of about 900,000 vehicles sold since late 2010. Reports show that Hyundai alone could spend $100 million trying to fix the fiasco. 

Some of the MPG window stickers that will require a change include the Hyundai Accent and the Kia Soul ECO. The Accent had its 30/40/33 (city/highway/combined) rating drop to 28/37/31. The Kia Soul ECO saw the biggest drop of any affected model going from 27/35/30 to 24/29/26.

Source: The Detroit News

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Is this a big deal?
By ppardee on 11/30/2012 7:13:39 PM , Rating: 2
So the Accent went from 3.03 gallons per 100 miles to 3.23 gallons per 100 miles... This will increase the driver's fuel cost by 6%. Not really earth shattering. Most people drive like morons and wouldn't be able to get the full fuel economy anyway.

So assuming the car runs until it falls apart (about 30 seconds or .1 of a mile after the warranty expires, which ever comes first), this will cost a grand total of about $800 ($6/month) over the life of the vehicle.

If Congress really wants to crack down on them, they should crack down on them for making crappy cars. A leaking power steering hose shouldn't kill your alternator, you shouldn't have to dismount the engine to remove the thermostat and it shouldn't take 6 hours to change a headlamp. We spent enough money on repairs in the last two years of my wife's Kia's life to have bough another car.

My Chevy Cobalt has 110k miles on it (same as her Kia did) and has had only one repair done to it... Still on the same brake pads even. Kia's been shafting customers for a LONG time. MPG is nothing.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By ritualm on 11/30/12, Rating: 0
RE: Is this a big deal?
By drycrust3 on 11/30/2012 7:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that's possibly a better way of compensating those people who bought a Kia or Hyundai: offer them no cost maintenance (labour, oil, brake pads, etc) for the next 5 years or whatever. No matter what way you try, you cannot repay everyone, but what you can do is provide a way of offsetting the extra cost of fuel that the purchasers were supposedly charged by putting that money into the cost of correctly maintaining the vehicle.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By headbox on 11/30/2012 7:29:54 PM , Rating: 5
How about you do a little research, combine it with some common sense, and never EVER buy a Kia like the rest of us? Resale value alone should steer any buyer away from Korean cars.

Only 25mpg from an economy car is a big deal. That high mpg and lower sticker price were probably the only two selling points for the car to begin with. If the buyer wasn't lied to, they likely would have bought something else.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By sigmatau on 12/1/2012 8:14:18 AM , Rating: 2

I took Hyundai and Kia off my list for at least another 10 years. The only reason I ever considered them is because of low price and great economy. They also had a good warranty but bad reliability so that is kinda a wash.

I knew they were lying about their SUV's economy. I have a 2003 Nissan SUV and Hyundai/Kia's SUVs were killing mine in economy. I always thought to myself how odd that they improved on economy so much in such a little amount of time.

Why would anyone want a Hyundai/Kia now with soso economy, mostly ugly styling, bad reliability, and terrible driving dynamics? Price? Good luck with that!

RE: Is this a big deal?
By Mint on 12/1/2012 12:26:17 PM , Rating: 5
I'll rely on actual reliability DATA rather than the minefield of crap that is hearsay from people like you. Kia/Hyundai have improved leaps and bounds over their reputation rooted in problems 10-20 years ago.

Are they as good as Toyota/Honda? No. However, they have improved a lot, and are above all domestic and German brands overall, according to Consumer Reports. And to rag on their styling is nonsense when so many of their recent cars are getting accolades from everyone. Just stick to the topic of fuel economy.

Their reputation will pay for this fuel economy blunder, though, and deservedly so. If it was intentional, then everyone who knew should be fired. You'd have to be incredibly naive to think that in the information age such a lie could go unnoticed. It'll take years to repair the damage to their reputation.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By nocturne on 12/2/2012 10:21:27 PM , Rating: 1
Consumer Reports takes a brand new item, tests it, and gives a pretty wishy-washy review no matter if the product is great or horrible. The surveys of actual owners are rather limited, and take no look at all of long term reliability. Taking a brand new car and fiddling around with it a few days is certainly not what I call a comprehensive review.. For that, you only have to look at a long history of failure. Exactly why you should stay away from anything made in Korea.

One thing makes it abundantly clear how bad Kia and Hyundai are.. in what world does it make sense to take air/fuel in through the back of the block, and spit exhaust out the front..? Bad design concepts all around.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By Nutzo on 12/3/2012 11:50:15 AM , Rating: 4
You are completely wrong about Consumer Reports when it comes to reliability.
Their reliability reports are based on a very comprehensive survey they send out to subscribers, and consists of the repair records of thousands each of cars.

As for "fiddling around with it a few days", you are wrong again. They not only have basic reviews of new cars, but also run long term tests on many of these cars.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By sigmatau on 12/3/2012 9:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
What data? The kind you made up? You can take that and shove it up your rear.

Improving? From super horrible to soso? Really? LOL! Don't be so butt hurt because you have a terrible vehicle.

And did you really compare a Korean maker to a German? Are you insane? Those are mostly luxury brands minus VW. These brands typicaly have technology you will see in Korean cars in 5-10 years. Want to rethink that do you?

My gut was right to stay away from them.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By futrtrubl on 11/30/2012 8:36:56 PM , Rating: 2
If they expect to pay out $100,000,000 to 900,000 people that's only about $110 per person. Just in gas that's a lot less than they should get. And then the redoing of the mpg just dropped their resale value too.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By Targon on 12/1/2012 9:44:45 AM , Rating: 2
There is an additional part to this, the damage done to other auto makers due to customers who bought these mislabeled vehicles due to the fuel economy claims.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By nofumble62 on 12/1/2012 10:41:44 AM , Rating: 2
Lying to the consumer, yes this is a big deal.

I actually did a shopping research on the Elantra and Honda Civic early this year. The Elantra claimed 40MPG while the Civic is 38MPG or something, but when I went to the fuel economy website and looked at people actual mileage data, the Elantra data were lower than the Civic. I tested drove an Elantra and kept my eye on the MPG meter, it only registered in the low 20 during the trip. I know they removed the spare tire (to save weight) to get the 40MPG (giving you a goo pump instead). So I knew they were lying, and never consider them again.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By FaaR on 12/1/2012 12:17:41 PM , Rating: 2
It's kind of a big deal if a manufacturer decides to lie to you in order to ensure a sale, and when it's about something as expensive as a car it's even more worrysome, wouldn't you say?

It IS a big deal if manufacturers decide that it's more profitable to be dishonest than telling the truth. It's actually hella worrysome, which is why this kind of behavior needs to be stomped on really really hard. Not just fines for the company, but also prison time for board executives. Look at melamine scandal (and other food related disasters) in china as an example of what can happen when companies put profits above honesty.

RE: Is this a big deal?
By Dr of crap on 12/3/2012 8:30:58 AM , Rating: 3
OK, but is it worth the congress time and effort????

Yes they mis-stated mpg numbers. So we need the govt to step in and like they always do take to much time and waste our tax money on something so stupid? As stated on here MOST drivers will not experience stated mpg number no matter what is on the window sticker.

Give back some money - ok, but lets not get congress anymore involved - please.
It's not like the cars are burning up with anyone inside!
They're just using a bit more gas!

RE: Is this a big deal?
By Rukkian on 12/3/2012 9:59:27 AM , Rating: 2
When you get a bunch of constituents wanting something done, this is exactly what a congress person should be doing. One customer cannot get much done, but if enough get together, it should be dealt with. Whether it is congress or another agency, it is still tax dollars. The government should be looking out for issues like this and penalizing the companies involved.

To me, this is much better than the bickering and political fighting that normally happens in congress right now on both sides.

As to your statement that most consumers will not see the numbers anyways, that does not matter, as I am sure if there is a 5-10% difference in gas money at the posted numbers, there should be at least that much difference for the typical driver as well.

I hate to say it, but...
By TennesseeTony on 11/30/2012 8:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
I hate to say it, but I bought a Kia Soul last year. I get 24 mpg around town, and a truly pathetic 21 mpg (worse than city) on the hwy.

I feel a bit better knowing I may be compensated for the MUCH lower than advertised fuel economy. 30 mpg hwy down to 21 mpg is substantial, but I'll leave it to the calculator masters above to run the numbers.

RE: I hate to say it, but...
By lagomorpha on 11/30/2012 8:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
Are you absolutely certain there isn't something mechanically wrong with your particular car? 24 mpg is bad for a larger car with a lot more power.

RE: I hate to say it, but...
By FaaR on 12/1/2012 12:11:06 PM , Rating: 3
Lead right foot syndrome, most likely... ;)

RE: I hate to say it, but...
By Samus on 12/2/2012 3:38:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yup. I'd add that Kia/Hyundai owners are typically the worst drivers on the road and its safe to say efficient driving isn't on their agenda.

After all, anyone buying a Korean is looking for the cheapest car on the market (especially when it comes to used cars because Kia/Hyundai have terrible resale value) and anybody in this category is unlikely to maintain or know anything about cars.

RE: I hate to say it, but...
By Alexvrb on 12/2/2012 3:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
There is no way that leadfoot driving should lead to that kind of mileage on the highway. There has to be something wrong with that vehicle to get significantly worse mileage on the highway than around town. Like a faulty torque converter lockup solenoid preventing the converter from locking up at all. Something like that would cause poor mileage at highway speeds, as the motor would stay at moderate RPMs even just cruising at 60+ MPH.

Those are some really piss-poor numbers and assuming he's not just completely lying, blaming Kia/Hyundai drivers seems a bit asinine.

I'm not a big fan of Korean cars either, but the current gen models aren't that terrible - even the budget ones. I don't think the reliability picture is nearly as bad as some people make it seem. Usually the ones that rip on them the most are elitist Honda and Toyota owners. The main reason I don't like them is that I keep cars for a long time, and the availability and pricing on parts for Hyundai/Kia are not as good as most makes for the same class of vehicle.

On the other hand, I feel like the mileage issue is important in the bigger picture. A lot of people buy them not only for price but for anticipated mileage over the long haul. So I think the mileage issue is important, since they have lured potential buyers away from other brands by claiming a false lead in mileage.

RE: I hate to say it, but...
By Lord 666 on 11/30/2012 10:33:50 PM , Rating: 2
Should have purchased a TDI made in your home state

RE: I hate to say it, but...
By EricMartello on 12/1/2012 8:11:54 PM , Rating: 2
As a marketing guy myself I am genuinely interested in knowing what goes through the mind of someone who ultimately decides to purchase a Kia, priced between $15K and $19K MSRP.

Is it souly the price or do you actually find it to be aesthetically pleasing?

Does your Kia do something better than other cars in its price range, like ensuring you never lose your virginity?

Knowing that you could spend a little more and purchase a much nicer vehicle (or a bicycle), arguably of better quality both mechanically and aesthetically, what made you decide that yes, the KIA is the way to go?

Better vehicles than your Kia under $20K brand new:

- Honda Civic
- GMC Canyon
- Chevy Colorado
- Mitsubishi Lancer
- Nissan Sentra
- Scion TC
- VW Jetta
- VW Golf
- Jeep Patriot
- Ford Focus
- Subaru Impreza

So from that non-exhaustive list (in no special order) you can see there are a lot of vehicles which are well below $20K MSRP and within the price range of the Kia Soul - what could possibly compel you to disregard all of those better options and choose a Kia.

How is this different from technology products?
By nerdye on 12/1/2012 3:20:22 PM , Rating: 3
So my usb 3.0 flash drive advertises 30mb sec write speed, in real life I only get 24mb sec. My sata 6gbs ssd advertises 555mb sec read speed, I only get around 500mb sec. Why is this ok and with cars that's not ok?

By chµck on 12/2/2012 1:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
There's clearly something wrong with the user.

By Mint on 12/2/2012 3:32:04 PM , Rating: 4
Because what Kia did was falsify results for a standardized test. Because fuel for cars is such a significant regular expense, the gov't regulates how it is to be tested and advertised. Standardized testing is never perfect but at least it gives you an apples to apples comparison.

Marketing on a computer product is nothing of the sort.

By Rukkian on 12/3/2012 10:05:55 AM , Rating: 2
Because there is no standardized testing in place, and very rarely does anybody actually buy one drive instead of another due to the numbers published. Add to that the fact that the drive youa re talking about is less than $200 compared to a $20k vehicle that people will need to keep for years and keep spending extra money on, and you can see why your statement is in no comparison to what is being talked about here.

The speed difference does not cost you any extra money per say (maybe a miniscule amount of time).

By btc909 on 12/1/2012 3:40:39 AM , Rating: 1
Ford needs to come clean with the C-Max & Fusion Hybrid. A good 7-10 mpg off of their 47mpg claims.

RE: Ford
By Samus on 12/2/2012 3:35:10 AM , Rating: 2
My buddy has a Fusion Hybrid and gets 45MPG city driving here in Chicago. He isn't complaining about 2MPG difference from the sticker rating because for the size of the car that fuel economy is ridiculously good.

RE: Ford
By Rukkian on 12/3/2012 10:06:55 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have some reason to claim this, or are you just a honda/toyota snob?

RE: Ford
By Nutzo on 12/3/2012 11:54:28 AM , Rating: 2
They also be required to warn people that the C-Max doesn't come with a spare tire.

Ford has a lot to answer to as well.
By smarish on 12/3/2012 8:52:01 AM , Rating: 2
I recently bought a C-Max which claims to get 47 highway and 47 city, and based on my own experience and lots of others on the C-Max forum, that is never gonna happen. We are lucky to get 40 MPG. So, when does Congress investigate Ford?

By Nutzo on 12/3/2012 11:57:15 AM , Rating: 2
Just hope you don't get a flat tire, sice you don't have a spare (or even a space for one).

By wannabemedontu on 12/3/2012 9:15:16 AM , Rating: 4
These idiotic hypocrites need to shut it up and work on the fiscal and employment disaster in front of them.

Does it matter?
By Wombat_56 on 11/30/2012 7:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
"So the Accent went from 3.03 gallons per 100 miles to 3.23 gallons per 100 miles... This will increase the driver's fuel cost by 6%. Not really earth shattering. Most people drive like morons and wouldn't be able to get the full fuel economy anyway."

It matters at point of sale, when people are deciding to buy one of the liars' cars or some alternative brand.

By Chaotic42 on 12/2/2012 1:06:04 AM , Rating: 2
I just bought a Chevy Cruze which claims 42 mpg. I've been getting 47. Maybe I should sue Chevy... Oh wait. :P

Seriously though, this is important. Hyundai has been making a huge deal about their economy in their commercials. Just when I was starting to consider them, this happens. I know everyone likes to say that customers are idiots and sheep, but if you screw them over too hard, they'll make you pay.

By cubby1223 on 12/2/2012 8:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
I almost bought a Kia Soul.

I was trying to find the most economical vehicle with the larger wagon-style back-end. Purchase price and gas mileage combined were by far the best with the Soul. After test-driving the Soul it felt super super cheap and I ended up buying a Prius-V.

Made the right choice! The mpg numbers were a large factor in me considering the Kia Soul.

The people...
By nomagic on 12/3/2012 2:34:00 AM , Rating: 2
Price-fixing, cheating in competitive sports/e-sports, and falsifying standard tests say a lot about the people...

By The Insolent One on 12/3/2012 2:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
This just in...

A certain senator looking for donors for his re-election bid met with Hyundai officials today in Washington. Following that meeting, Senator Scratchmyback said "we believe that since mileage varies depending on whom is driving the car, a car's stated mileage really isn't that important. Right?"

And with that, the great mileage caper was never to be heard of again.

Maybe it's....
By Noya on 12/3/2012 6:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
...because all the ethanol in pump gas? And they actually use 100% undiluted fuel when doing EPA testing?

By BZDTemp on 12/2/2012 9:51:50 AM , Rating: 1
It's a bigger scandal how poor mileage has pretty much been a trademark for the US auto industry for decades.

I'm not saying overstating mileage figures is right, but there are much bigger issues. Like fx. how Trucks has gone from being a work tool to something many use for personal transport - much helped by Government incentives including less strict safety requirements.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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