Hyundai and Kia Fined for Inflating Gas Mileage and Fuel Economy Ratings for Vehicles

The automakers are required to pay North Carolina almost one million dollars

Hyundai and Kia Fined for Inflating Gas Mileage and Fuel Economy Ratings for Vehicles
Image: Pixabay
November 01, 2016

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has announced that auto manufacturers Hyundai and Kia must pay North Carolina almost one million dollars for inflating ratings of gas mileage and fuel economy for certain vehicles.

"Consumers shopping for cars need straight information about fuel economy from automakers," Cooper said. "My office took action to hold these companies accountable."

Cooper and 34 other attorneys general negotiated the settlement with the two automakers. Under the terms of the settlement, the companies will pay $41.2 million to conclude the investigation into their business practices regarding fuel economy ratings. Out of that total, North Carolina's share will amount to $922,469.54.

The investigation, which spanned numerous states, began in 2012 following reports that Hyundai and Kia had exaggerated the fuel efficiency of some of their vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board determined that the two companies had not followed mandated testing protocols. After these findings were revealed, the automakers announced that they were adjusting and reissuing their ratings of the fuel economy of certain model year 2011, 2012, and 2013 vehicles.

Vehicle emissions are limited by both state and federal laws. Automakers must carry out testing under mandatory protocols determined by government regulators and then use the resulting data to show that their vehicles are up to those standards. Only after this process is complete can those vehicles be offered for sale.

The states claimed that the data used by Hyundai and Kia to inflate the estimated fuel economy displayed on vehicle window stickers was not correct. The two companies also, claims the complaint, used the inaccurate estimates regarding mileage in several high-profile ads and promotional campaigns. In one commercial aired on television, Hyundai claimed that five models were rated at 40 miles per gallon. This would encourage consumers to purchase these vehicles at a time when the price of gas was high.

Under the terms of the settlement, Hyundai and Kia are required to pay North Carolina $922,469.54 within 40 days. In addition, they are prohibited from misrepresenting the fuel economy ratings of any new vehicles and must undergo compliance monitoring from the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.

The two auto manufacturers also agreed to pay direct relief to consumers to settle a separate class action lawsuit, although that case is under appeal at this time.