Hyundai and Kia Overstated Gas Mileage says EPA; Owe Refunds to Consumers

Hyundai and Kia Overstated Gas Mileage says EPA; Owe Refunds to Consumers
Image: Kia

Hyundai and Kia overstated the gas mileage on 900,000 vehicles sold in the past three years, a discovery that could bring sanctions from the U.S. government and require the companies to refund millions of dollars to consumers.

The inflated mileage was uncovered in an audit of test results by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which ordered the Korean automakers to replace fuel economy stickers on the affected cars.

The audit turned up discrepancies between agency test results and data turned in by Hyundai and Kia. As a result, the two automakers will have to knock one or two miles per gallon off the mileage posted on the window stickers of most of their models. Some models will lose three or four miles per gallon. The Kia soul, on the other hand, will lose six mpg from the highway mileage on its stickers.

In all, the errors involve 13 models from the 2011 through 2013 model years, including seven Hyundais and six Kias. Window stickers will have to be changed on some versions of the following models: Hyundai's Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, Accent, Azera, Genesis, Tucson, Veloster and Santa Fe. Kia models affected include the Sorrento, Rio, Soul, Sportage and Optima Hybrid.

The EPA's inquiry into the overstated figures is continuing, and the agency would not comment when asked if the companies will be fined or if a criminal investigation is under way.

The EPA said it began looking at Hyundai and Kia when it received a dozen complaints from consumers that the mileage of their 2012 Hyundai Elantra cars fell short of numbers on the window stickers.

Hyundai and Kia executives said the higher figures were unintentional errors. They apologized and promised to pay owners of the 900,000 cars and SUVs for the difference in mileage. The payments, which will be made annually for as long as people own their cars, are likely to cost the companies hundreds of millions of dollars.