Chicago consumer sues Hyundai over inflated MPG
BY LEEANN SHELTON Staff Reporter November 14, 2012 7:30PM
Updated: December 19, 2012 12:22PM
A Chicago customer filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Hyundai following revelations the Korean carmaker exaggerated fuel economy claims for more than 600,000 vehicles sold between 2010 and 2012.
On Nov. 2, Hyundai and Kia announced a “procedural error” at the companies’ joint testing operations in Korea led to cars being labeled with fuel economy ratings an average of 3 percent higher than they actually performed, the carmaker said in a release.
The error affected more than 600,000 Hyundai vehicles in the 2011 to 2013 model year in its Elantra, Sonata, Accent, Tuscon, Santa Fe, Azera, Genesis and Veloster lines.
Nilufar Rezai bought a 2013 Santa Fe Sport from a Chicago dealership in October, largely because a sticker on the vehicle said it would get an estimated 20 miles per gallon, she claims in a suit filed in U.S. District Court.
She later found the vehicle drove just 16 mpg, raising her fuel costs more than $700 per year, the suit claims.
The carmaker has established a reimbursement program, issuing customers a debit card to compensate them for extra fuel costs as long as they own the car, plus an extra 15 percent, according to Hyundai’s website.
“We think our reimbursement program provides the best, quickest, and most customer-focused remedy,” Hyundai spokesman Christopher Hosford wrote in an email responding to the lawsuit. “Owners have responded very favorably to the plan. Our priority is to make this right for our owners, and that’s precisely what this program does.”
Kia has also established a reimbursement program for 300,000 owners who bought certain Optima, Rio, Sorento, Soul and Sportage models in the 2011 to 2013 model years.
Both carmakers say they are relabeling all vehicles still at dealerships and correcting errors in its testing process.
Wednesday’s suit seeks class-action status and claims consumer fraud and breach of warranty. It seeks compensatory damages of at least $10,000 for every owner who bought one of the affected vehicles, and asks the court to establish a fund of at least $1 billion to be distributed to the plaintiffs.