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by David Zalstein

The US divisions of South Korean sister brands Hyundai and Kia will reimburse owners and adjust fuel economy ratings after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found discrepancies between the agency’s own testing results and data submitted by the manufacturers.

Both Hyundai and Kia will increase the fuel economy estimates for approximately 900,000 different 2011-2013 model year vehicles sold in the US to the end of October as a result of the EPA’s announcement of the required correction.

Procedural errors during “coastdown” testing – providing simulated technical data on aerodynamic drag, tyre rolling resistance and drivetrain frictional losses used to program test dynamometers that generate EPA fuel economy ratings – at the car makers’ joint Korean testing operations have been blamed for the incorrect fuel economy figures.

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai/Kia research and development chief technology officer Dr W. C. Yang said he regretted the errors occurring and sincerely apologised to all affected Hyundai and Kia customers.

“Following up on the EPA’s audit results, we have taken immediate action to make the necessary rating changes and process corrections,” Yang said.

Hyundai Motor America president and CEO John Krafcik said, “Given the importance of fuel efficiency to all of us, we’re extremely sorry about these errors.”

The two companies will reimburse affected current and former vehicle owners covering the additional fuel costs that resulted from the incorrect fuel economy ratings.

Kia Soul

Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America say customers will receive a personalised debit card that will reimburse them based on the difference between its own figures and the EPA’s new combined fuel economy ratings, calculated against fuel prices in their area and their own actual miles driven.

A further 15 per cent will also be added to the reimbursement amount “as an acknowledgement of the inconvenience”.

The manufacturers have submitted a plan to the EPA for the relabelling of cars currently on dealer lots with new window stickers to reflect the corrected economy estimates, the biggest difference being the highway figure for the 2012 Kia Soul changing from 34mpg to 28mpg (6.9L/100km to 8.4L/100km).

The EPA’s audit stemmed from discrepancies found relating to a model year 2012 Hyundai Elantra tested in response to a number of consumer complaints, prompting the agency to expand its investigation into data for other Hyundai and Kia models.

The EPA said that while its audit testing occasionally uncovers individual vehicles whose fuel consumption label values are incorrect leading to the manufacturer relabelling vehicles, this has only happened twice since 2000, and the Hyundai/Kia case is the first time such a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.




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