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Organization claims a high number of drivers are unable to come close to mileage estimates

Most drivers know that when they buy a vehicle the estimates for fuel economy on the window stickers are just estimates. In the real world, driving the fuel economy can be much different. There has been more than the typical number of complaints about the fuel economy that Hyundai is claiming for its new Elantra.
Hyundai is claiming that the Elantra gets 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway for an combined rated of 33 mpg. The problem is that according to the higher than usual number of complaints about the efficiency of the Elantra, the real world mileage is in the mid-20 mpg range. Drivers that purchased the vehicle based in large part on the efficiency claims are understandably upset by the real world figures. 
Consumer Watchdog is asking the EPA to investigate the mileage claims for the Elantra. The letter sent to the EPA read in part:
A notable exception to this rule has caught the attention of Consumer Watchdog. For the two most recent model years, Hyundai Motors has actively marketed its base models of the Elantra on their very high 29/40 MPG, and 33 MPG average, leaving a trail of disappointed drivers. An Edmunds online Town Hall discussion on the Elantra attracted scores of drivers who can't, no matter how hard they try, duplicate such numbers. One very public example of this was USA Today tech writer Jefferson Graham, whose Sept. 22 article on his new Elantra expressed his disappointment that he averaged only 22 MPG, a gap that no "break-in" period seems likely to fill.
Consumer Watchdog also pointed out that while automotive publication Motor Trend named the 2012 Elantra a Car of the Year contender, the fuel economy it achieved in testing was only 26.5 mpg. That number was poor enough compared to estimates for Motor Trend to mention it in the review. The consumer organization is asking the EPA to retest the Elantra and if it finds the estimates Hyundai is giving aren't accurate to impose a fine on the automaker to compensate drivers.
One of the big selling pints of the Elantra was that the 40 mpg highway claim was for the normal model of the car whereas other automakers needed special trims to hit 40 mpg. Hyundai also has the Accent with the same 40 mpg claim. Chevy has touted a version of its Cruze, the Eco, which gets 40 mpg on the highway. Ford has a special version of the Focus with a claimed 40 mpg highway rating that is called the SFE.
In October of this year, Hyundai announced that it planned to offer a plug-in hybrid to go against the Prius called the Elantra Touring

Source: Consumer Watchdog

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RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By The Raven on 12/5/2011 2:28:49 PM , Rating: 2
So the EPA stripped everything out of the Civic, Corolla, AND Elantra to get great numbers? I don't follow. Why would the EPA do this?

RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By MonkeyPaw on 12/5/2011 3:19:50 PM , Rating: 2
You misunderstand. The EPA didn't "do" this, but they do set a standard for how cars get rated for fuel economy. Auto makers can tune cars to score well under those conditions, largely by transmission tuning. Its the same story for crash testing, because high MPG and 5-star crash results sell cars. Thats why the testing requirements and methods are just as critical as the test results.

RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By The Raven on 12/5/2011 4:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I think I understand what you are saying now. Yeah this really makes the EPA look stupid then. It is like if the FDA said that you can't poison people and GSK gives them a sample to test and pass the "poison test" then sell something completely different.

So the FDA puts their stamp of approval of the poisoned drug and 1000s die. Those 1000s would've been better without the endorsemnt.

I know it is a dark example but my point is that I think people wouldn't have bought these Elantras if there wasn't an EPA sticker on there. I think they would be better off with a Consumer Reports sticker or something that actually makes sense.

RE: Who is to blame? Hyundai, EPA or both?
By MonkeyPaw on 12/5/2011 5:30:15 PM , Rating: 1
Well, it also furthers the point that just because a governing body determines the testing methods, it doesn't mean you should use only the results of those values. This isn't a toaster, it's a several thousand dollar car that should last you anywhere from 5-15 years. I would read at least one review, if not as many as I could find from reputable sources (MotorTrend, Road&Track, Automobile, Autoweek), and then I'd read owner reviews. No government rating is going to be as good as what professionals and real users can provide.

This isn't the EPA's issue, or Hyundai's. It's a classic case of "buyer beware," but in our never-lose society, people demand lawsuits and big-government to rescue them.

By anactoraaron on 12/6/2011 9:29:25 AM , Rating: 2
It's a classic case of "buyer beware," but in our never-lose society, people demand lawsuits and big-government to rescue them.

I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to say here. Are you saying that companies can make outrageous unsubstantiated claims about their product with little or zero consequence?

Yeah it's fine that there are people like yourself that check multiple sources (which may or may not be accurate) before making a big purchase, but in reality sales are more about brand/name recognition and advertising. Lately Hyundai has been trying to make a name for themselves by these claims of fuel efficiency. That's the problem.

By nolisi on 12/6/2011 5:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
but in our never-lose society, people demand lawsuits and big-government to rescue them.

Why should it be anything other than "never-lose"? When you make any substantial financial deal in the free market, the deliverables should match the bill of sale. Are you advocating it should be otherwise? Because that notion destroys the legitimacy of the ideals of a free market which include efficiency in commerce and fair trade.

Understanding that things like weather and road conditions can affect realworld mileage is one thing, but when you can't deliver on your claims to a substantial number of consumers, that kills the idea of fair trade in the market. The subsequent backlash then hurts efficiency in the market. I think these ideas ar bigger than any individual seller on the free market. Otherwise you have a market governed by corporate interests rather than fair trade. At best this is oligarchy/corporatocracy and at worst it's a mild form of communism that happens to be run by agents who advocate free market ideas.

By idiot77 on 12/5/2011 10:50:30 PM , Rating: 2
Well... the EPA lowered the estimate on my '11 Fiesta down from 40 MPG (Ford's original claim) to 37-38 MPG and I get a little bit better or worse just depending on temperature. When it's hot it's 37-38, when it's 50-60's it's 42, and when it's cold it's about 38-39. All highway #s. In city is a very reliable better than advertised 33-35 MPG.

Go figure.

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