Hyundai and Kia took another step toward ending penalties for overstating fuel economy with a $41 million settlement with 33 state attorneys general.
This settlement comes four years after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched an investigation over mileage claims made by Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. The two automakers have been charged with overstating mpg by up to 6 mpg on its vehicles sold in the U.S.
Parent company Hyundai has declined to admitting violations of any laws, but does acknowledge its responsibility to make accurate mileage statements. The latest settlement “recognizes that fuel economy is a consideration in many car-buying decisions, and (Hyundai) remains committed to being responsive to customer concerns about our revised fuel economy ratings,” said David Zuchowski of the company’s U.S. operations.
The EPA investigation led to identification of several vehicles having overstated mileage, including the popular Hyundai Elantra sedan (the 2017 edition is featured in the photo above) and Santa Fe SUV, along with the Kia Soul crossover. Kia eventually reduced the mpg rating by 6 mpg, and Hyundai said four of its 2012 models did not top 40 mpg, as claimed.
“This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly,” the EPA said at the time.
The two companies reached a $350 million settlement with EPA that covered a penalty, loss in emissions credits, and changing operations for determining vehicle mileage numbers. The two companies also paid out another $395 million through an incentive program for owners of the affected vehicles and to settle additional legal claims.
The latest settlement with 33 states adds another $41.2 million to the total. Hyundai and Kia say this settlement will cover “investigative costs.”
Revelation of the false mpg claims by Hyundai and Kia has led to a broad crackdown bringing in other automakers; and likely caused Japan to scrutinize mileage ratings more carefully. Ford lowered mileage numbers on six vehicles in June 2014.
In May, General Motors acknowledged overstating the mileage of 146,000 sport-utility vehicles.
Mitsubishi was penalized earlier this year in Japan for false mpg reporting on a number of microcars, which the company later acknowledged went back on other models as far as 25 years. Another Japanese automaker, Suzuki, has also been caught rigging mileage numbers; that scandal leading to the departure of a number of senior executives.