Washington, DC — Consumer Watchdog today praised the Environmental Protection Agency for auditing Hyundai and determining it overstated its sticker mileage estimates on various vehicles, including the Elantra.
Following a barrage of consumer complaints, the nonprofit consumer group called upon the EPA to audit mileage of the Elantra in Janaury and ultimately filed a false advertising case against Hyundai for widely advertising the “40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra.”
Hyundai had previously denied that it exaggerated mileage claims, but said today it would reissue the window stickers with new mileage estimates. The agency is continuing its investigation into the inflated test results.
“The EPA rightly audited Hyundai and the public deserves to know the whole truth about why these test results were inaccurate and whether or not they were intentionally falsified, ” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “The carmaker has steadfastly denied consumers’ charges of inflated mileage and refused to change its window stickers or give consumers what they were owed until the EPA stepped in. Hyundai should settle up with consumers and make reparations for its inflated claims if it wants to restore consumer trust in its brand.”
In January, Consumer Watchdog asked the White House and EPA to audit the mileage claims of the Elantra and other cars. Read the letter here.
In July, Consumer Watchdog sued Hyundai over its “40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra” advertising claims. The lawsuit claims Hyundai Motor America misled consumers about the gas mileage of the 2011 and 2012 Elantra through a broad-based media advertising campaign designed to capitalize on public concern over escalating gas prices. The lawsuit was filed by Consumer Watchdog and Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP.
The lawsuit alleges Hyundai touted “The 40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra” in high-impact television, Internet, and print advertisements without government-required disclosures that those mileage estimates were for highway driving only and that city driving mileage estimates were much lower. The omitted disclosures would have informed consumers that the car does not attain 40 MPG under most driving conditions. The illegal advertisements caused tens of thousands of California drivers to purchase or lease 2011 and 2012 Elantras and consequently incur unexpected fuel costs.
“I feel like Hyundai took advantage me. Hyundai’s advertisements about the ‘40 MPG’ gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me,” said Louis Bird of Sacramento, California, a 2011 Elantra owner who is representing other consumers in the class-action lawsuit and meticulously documents his mileage. “I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn’t seen Hyundai’s ads boasting about gas mileage.”
Consumer Watchdog had challenged Hyundai to fix its advertising claims last fall in numerous correspondence, including a call to withdraw the ’40 Mile Per Gallon’ claim from the Super Bowl advertising, which Hyundai id. Nonetheless the carmaker continued to widely use the false claim in marketing.
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