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EPA Audit Determines Kia & Hyundai Overstated MPG Efficiency: you May be Entitled to Compensation

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Each year, I take a look at the most fuel efficient vehicles on the market. One year, I noticed that the Kia Soul had made a 5 mpg highway jump year-over-year, without any change in engine size or body style.

I thought to myself… “Hmm… that is interesting. But, hey, great for them that they could magically squeeze out another 5 mpg without any engine or body changes, and get 35 mpg out of what is essentially a box of a vehicle.”

At one time, I actually considered getting one myself because I was so impressed with the size, fuel efficiency, and low price.

Well, it turns out, like most forms of magic, it was an illusion.

In a recent audit, the EPA found that both Kia and Hyundai (same company, separate brands) to be overstating their fuel efficiency on most of their 2011, 2012, and 2013 models. The company claims it was a “procedural error”.

kia hyundai mpg epaYou can find a complete list of Kia vehicles and Hyundai vehicles that are affected.

The Kia Soul, for example, will be forced to chop 5 highway mpg off of its previously stated 35 mpg 1.6L and 6 mpg off its previously stated 34 highway mpg 2.0L models.

And a number of vehicles, including the Kia Rio and Optima and Hyundai Veloster, Elantra, and Accent all managed to reach the magical marketing milestone of 40 mpg highway before the EPA audit.

This is pretty head turning, given that the #1 consideration for buying a vehicle has become fuel efficiency, as high gas prices and the Great Recession has forced most of us to wise up a bit about our fuel expenses.

Kia and Hyundai’s U.S. market shares have grown significantly in recent years, in large part, due to aggressive marketing campaigns touting their excellent fuel economy. They are the fourth largest automaker in the world, after Toyota, GM, and Volkswagen.

In a statement, the EPA said, “Only twice since 2000 has its auditing program uncovered vehicles whose mileage stickers were incorrect and need to be relabeled. This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.”

How many folks out there decided to purchase a Kia or Hyundai for their falsely stated fuel economy?

Well, it turns out about 900,000.

If you were one of misled buyers, you may have some claim to compensation.

The company has put together two websites (Kia here, Hyundai here) with an overview and compensation calculator. They will offer a debit card to reimburse buyers for the difference in the EPA combined fuel economy rating, based on the fuel price in your region and your actual miles driven. They are also adding an extra 15% premium to your reimbursement amount. Reimbursement will be made for as long as you own the vehicle, refreshed annually. Prior owners of affected vehicles who have already sold their cars will also be reimbursed using the same formula.

Over the life of 900,000 vehicles? Talk about a costly logistical nightmare.

You will need to register online or through your dealer before December 1, 2013 to be eligible.

Kia & Hyundai MGP Discussion:

  • Did you purchase one of the affected vehicles? Was it partly because of the overstated mpg economy that you purchased the vehicle?
  • How much estimated compensation are you entitled to?
  • What additional fines/penalties do you think Kia/Hyundai should have to pay?
  • Does this change your perception of the company and your likelihood to buy one of their vehicles?

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  • Kyle says:

    I purchased a Veloster. Ultimately style is why I chose the car, but that was because the runner ups were the Kia Rio, and Kia Soul. All three cars had overestimated there economy, and was the reason the Fiat 500 was knocked out of the running so quickly. If the vehicles had accurate EPA labels, I probably would have gone with the Fiat which now has the exact same EPA as my Veloster, but a much lower price.

    Hyundai estimates about $100 compensation for driving 12000 miles and living in Florida. My calculations with combined fuel economy difference over that period of distance and about $3.50/gallon + 15% comes out to about $175. I’d like to know what figures they are using.

    Aside from the correct compensated amount I don’t think they should be penalized further. I would like to see some reform in the EPA. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to come up with verified numbers before a single car is sold.

    It is hard to judge whether this was an honest mistake. And whether they started the compensation program out of the goodness of their heart, or just to cover their base, it was the right thing to do. I still trust them just as much as any other car salesman, which is to say I don’t. Of course now I trust the EPA even less, but they are going to be the problem no matter the manufacturer.

  • Jessica W says:

    Holy moly, thanks so much! Our first check is about $50. I’ll take it. Of course as we try to drive less and less the impact will be lessened over time.

    I have to say, offering refunds for life and compensating for inconvenience do really make me think they are at least trying to do things the right way. And I’m happy the EPA actually did something for me, tax dollars reimbursed, sorta :p

    The cars still get a very good mpg and I have been happy thus far in owning my Elantra. It doesnt change my opinion. I generally believe all companies are scum, so as long as it isnt safety related… it is expected.


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