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Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia are facing a potential $775 million lawsuit over overstated fuel-economy claims.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 23 plaintiffs who are currently seeking class-action status. The plaintiffs want compensation for the lost resale and trade-in values of their vehicles because of the cars' lower-than-advertised fuel economy. This is in addition to the special debit cards that the automakers had previously planned to give to owners of the approximately 900,000 vehicles affected, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The lawsuit follows an investigation by the Environmental Protect Agency that found the automakers inflated the efficiency rating of 13 models, including popular cars like the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Sorento.
The EPA received consumer complaints about Hyundai's mileage estimates for the 2012 Elantra, and decided to launch an investigation, reports the Times. The agency found that estimates for the Elantra were incorrect, and broadened its investigation to other models.
As a result, the EPA found that the mileage ratings on most vehicles were inflated by 1 or 2 miles per gallon. The worst culprit was the Kia Soul's touted fuel efficiency, which was inflated by 6 mpg.
Kia and Hyundai are corporate siblings, and agreed to update the fuel-efficiency labels on their cars. They acknowledged the overstatement and blamed "procedural errors" in testing operations.
Along with an apology, the companies planned to reimburse customers based on fuel prices in their region and the miles they have driven.
Anyone who has ever purchased a new car knows that the stated mileage is rarely (if ever) what is advertised. It's just something that many consumer grudgingly accept.
However, the scope of Hyundai and Kia's overstatements appear to be so overwhelming that it prompted a federal investigation and several lawsuits.
A business that sells a product is generally liable for any promises or guarantees they make for that product. This includes things like stated miles per gallon for a vehicle, as well as safety features, horsepower, and other aspects that will influence someone to buy a car.
Like the Hyundai and Kia owners, if you're also fuming about the unfulfilled promises of your vehicle, you may want to consult with an experienced consumer protection lawyer to determine whether your case is worth pursuing in court.