If you missed the news, Hyundai-Kia cited a procedural error in their EPA-method testing at a South Korean facility, leading to claimed high fuel efficiency ratings that owners just could not duplicate. The investigation led to a drop of 1 or 2 mpg across most of the companies’ 2012 and 2013 products, but as much as 6 highway mpg for the Kia Soul with its optional 2.0-liter engine.
Hyundai has set aside $225 million, with Kia earmarking another $187 million, to repay owners for the estimated difference in fuel costs for as long as they own their cars. The exact payments will vary with gas prices, but figure on around $70-90 for every 15,000 miles driven, for each 1-combined-mpg drop.
The Environmental Protection Agency has opened an investigation into official mpg ratings for Ford’s new 2013 Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid after industry experts and some owners have been unable to duplicate the two cars’ lofty 47 city/47 highway/47 combined mpg ratings.
The news comes after testers at Consumer Reportsachieved just 37 combined mpg in the C-MAX Hybrid and 39 combined mpg in the Fusion Hybrid after thousands of miles of driving. The 10-mpg discrepancy in the C-MAX is the largest among all current production cars tested, CR says. Methods at the publication typically return lower numbers than official ratings, but a discrepancy this large has turned heads at the EPA.
Ford says owners of the pair of new-for-2013 hybrids have been quite satisfied thus far, with some claiming efficiency above the official 47 combined mpg rating. Because the two vehicles can operate for short distances at up to 62 mph on electric power alone, driving conditions may have a larger than normal effect on total efficiency.
Just last month, Hyundai-Kia lowered official mpg ratings and initiated a massive cash rebate program for owners of several 2011-2013 Hyundai and Kia models after the EPA found fuel efficiency to be widely overstated. Ford could face a similar situation depending on the EPA’s findings. It is not uncommon for real-world fuel efficiency to fall short of EPA numbers, especially for hybrid drivers, but the large discrepancy is cause for concern.
Hyundai and Kia have lowered official fuel efficiency ratings for much of their 2012 to 2013 product catalogs as well as some 2011 models, after an investigation by the EPA found mpg figures for several cars and trucks to be overstated. Citing a “procedural error” during efficiency testing taking place at the companies’ joint facility in South Korea, Hyundai/Kia will financially compensate U.S. buyers of more than 900,000 MY2011-2013 vehicles for the estimated value of the difference in fuel costs.
The investigation into Korean car mpg ratings began in earnest with a class-action lawsuit filed by Hyundai Elantra owners who were unable to attain anywhere close to the EPA’s then-official figures of 29 city/40 highway mpg. The EPA does not physically test every single car and truck released, instead relying on data supplied by automakers in addition to random and targeted testing of a percentage of new models.
After verifying the owners’ complaints, the EPA expanded its investigation and found overstatement averaging around 3% throughout the two automakers’ product portfolios. This translates to a drop of 1 to 3 combined mpg for several models, though as much as 6 highway mpg for the 2012-2013 Kia Soul with its optional larger engine and automatic transmission.
Old and New 2011-2013 Hyundai/Kia EPA Fuel Efficiency Ratings
Current owners, as well former Hyundai/Kia buyers who have since sold their cars, will receive a debit card offering reimbursement based on mileage. Figure on around $88 per 1 combined mpg drop for each 15,000 miles traveled, differing slightly with local gas prices.
“I sincerely apologize to all affected Hyundai and Kia customers, and I regret these errors occurred,” said Dr. W. C. Yang, chief technology officer of Hyundai/Kia research and development, promising that consumers and the EPA were not intentionally deceived. We’ll leave it to the engineers to figure that out, but at least the automakers are taking steps to compensate those affected by the error.
The EPA has spoken: the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid has been rated at 47 city/47 highway/47 combined mpg, making Ford’s spacious new-for-2013 hybrid one of the most-efficient vehicles in America. All set to attempt to chase down Toyota’s Prius lineup for a piece of the lucrative hybrid pie, Ford’s newest represents the best blend of power, interior and cargo space, and efficiency of any hybrid on the market.
Top 5 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars in America
(City, Highway, Combined MPG)
The C-MAX is sized between the standard Prius and larger Prius v, though it actually has more rear passenger legroom and headroom than either model. With a cargo capacity of 54.3 cubic feet, the C-MAX can accommodate more stuff than the Prius, while the “v” has 67.3 cubic feet. That said, the C-MAX is 7 mpg more-efficient than the “v” on the highway.
Then there’s the issue of power. The C-MAX’s hybrid system makes 188 combined peak horsepower, while the Prius and Prius v have just 134. Toyota’s models are perfectly adequate in acceleration, but can struggle up steep grades or when loaded down with people and stuff. We haven’t driven the C-MAX yet, but it should feel much quicker, minimizing tradeoffs mpg-lovers have faced thus far.
It would seem Ford has pulled off a hat trick of outstanding power, space and efficiency in its first dedicated hybrid model. The C-MAX Hybrid starts at $25,995 with Ford taking orders at select dealerships now.
A group of California Hyundai Elantra owners has paired with public interest group Consumer Watchdog to sue Hyundai Motor America over what the owners say were deceptive claims about the 2011-2012 Elantra’s fuel efficiency. Upset owners, who purchased their new Hyundais after a media blitz touted “the 40-mpg Elantra,” say that the South Korean automaker did not follow regulations in stating that the touted 40 mpg figure was for highway driving, and not achievable in most driving conditions.
Many Elantra drivers have struggled to equal the car’s EPA-estimated 29 city/40 highway mpg. The Elantra uses tall gear ratios and a low final drive ratio to achieve its lofty mpg, but owners have quickly realized that achieving these numbers in the real world is difficult to say the least. At the heart of the lawsuit (full text here), though, is advertising.
Consumer Watchdog says Hyundai did not properly explain the car’s city and combined mpg to consumers of radio and television media, leaving these lower mpg figures out of voiceovers and only showing the complete info in tiny text at the bottom that would have required pausing the frame to read at all. In a statement, Hyundai reaffirmed the Elantra’s EPA mpg ratings as accurate but did not address complaints about its advertising. We’ll keep you posted as this story develops.