Hyundai and Kia admit to wrong mpg figures

Hyundai and Kia have admitting overstating the fuel economy figures of cars sold in the US. And in a move that could have ramifications across the industry, have promised to reimburse owners. The firms will also correct the figures of the 13 models affected including the Hyundai Veloster, Hyundai Tucson - sold here as the ix35 - Kia Rio and Kia Soul.

In total 900,000 cars, sold between 2011 and October 2012, are affected although there are conflicting reports as to how the error was discovered. Hyundai and Kia blame 'procedural errors' at their joint testing facility in Korea but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US agency responsible for publishing the figures, says it uncovered the problem.

All models affected are petrol-engined US specification cars and the corrections will see an average reduction from 27mpg to 26mpg (these are US gallons rather than imperial gallons which we use in the UK). Some models are affected more than others, for instance a Kia Soul 2.0-litre automatic petrol which had a claimed combined 29mpg now has a figure of 25mpg after the corrections.

Hyundai and Kia are issuing personalised debit cards to owners in order reimburse them for the difference in the economy figures, based on the fuel price in their area and their mileage. On top of this, the firms are adding a further 15 per cent "as an acknowledgement of inconvenience". Owners will be able to top up their debit card for as long as they own the car while previous owners of affected cars will be reimbursed the same way. The announcement will come as a shock to other car manufacturers, especially as the move is expected to cost Kia and Hyundai millions of dollars.

"Given the importance of fuel efficiency to all of us, we’re extremely sorry about these errors,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "When we say to Hyundai owners, ‘We’ve got your back,’ that’s an assurance we don’t take lightly. We’re going to make this right for everyone, and we’ll be more driven than ever to ensure our vehicles deliver outstanding fuel economy," he added.

The admission from Hyundai and Kia in North America won't affect cars in Europe though. Due to the difference in the fuel economy tests between the US and the EU, Hyundai says there are no similar issues with cars in Europe or the UK and there are no plans to re-test any cars. "The issue arose from a certain part of the test - called 'coastdown' - carried out in Korea. Our fuel economy figures are carried out with through a different process and according to the EU legislation so we're confident that they are accurate," said a Hyundai spokesperson.

Official fuel economy figures have been a contentious issue for many years with car owners often complaining that they are not able to achieve the manufacturers claimed figures. These are sometimes labelled as EU figures but many people are not aware that there is no independent test. Instead the manufacturers test their own cars, under conditions dictated by the EU.

Called the New European Driving Cycle, the test involves a number of short runs on a rolling road under under laboratory conditions, designed to replicate 'real' driving. Essentially all manufacturers have to put their cars through the same test which should mean a level playing field.

However, every car manufacturer is going to tune their car to perform well in this test. This explains the prevalence of small turbocharged engines. During the test, the turbo barely has to work, so the engine seems frugal, but in real world driving - and as soon as the turbo kicks in - fuel economy drops dramatically. Hence the discrepancy in figures. Essentially the car is designed to be economical in this test, rather than in the real world.

It was these discrepancies and the frustration of car owners that prompted Real MPG - our way of helping car owners and buyers to find out what the real fuel economy of their car is. Owners can add their own mpg figures to give a genuine average for a model and the real mpg figures make for interesting reading when compared to the claimed figures.

Below is the full list of models affected by the changes. Some of the Hyundai models sold in the US are similar to those in the UK, albeit under different names and with different engines and specifications. The Accent is a saloon version of the i20, similarly the Elantra is a saloon version of the i30 while we'd recognise the Sonata as the i40. The Tucson is the US version of the ix35 while the Santa Fe Sport is the same as the Santa Fe in the UK.

 

Hyundai affected Models List

 Original figuresRevised figures
YearModelEngineTransmissionCityHwy
 
Comb
CityHwy
 
Comb
2011 Elantra 1.8L Automatic 29 40 33 28 38 32
1.8L Manual 29 40 33 28 38 32
Sonata HEV 2.4L Automatic 35 40 37 34 39 36
 
Original figures
Revised figures
2012 Accent 1.6L Automatic 30 40 33 28 37 31
1.6L Manual 30 40 34 28 37 32
Azera 3.3L Automatic 20 29 23 20 28 23
Elantra 1.8L Automatic 29 40 33 28 38 32
1.8L Manual 29 40 33 28 38 32
Genesis 3.8L Automatic 19 29 22 18 28 22
4.6L Automatic 17 26 20 16 25 19
5.0L Automatic 17 26 20 17 25 20
5.0L R-Spec Automatic 16 25 19 16 25 18
Sonata HEV 2.4L Automatic 35 40 37 34 39 36
Tucson 2.0L Automatic 23 31 26 22 29 25
2.0L Manual 20 27 23 20 26 22
2.4L Automatic 22 32 25 21 30 25
Tucson 4WD 2.4L Automatic 21 28 23 20 27 23
Veloster 1.6L Automatic 29 38 32 27 35 30
1.6L Manual 28 40 32 27 37 31
 
Original figures
Revised figures
2013 Accent 1.6L Automatic 30 40 33 28 37 31
1.6L Manual 30 40 34 28 37 32
Azera 3.3L Automatic 20 30 24 20 29 23
Elantra 1.8L Automatic 29 40 33 28 38 32
1.8L Manual 29 40 33 28 38 32
Elantra Coupe 1.8L Automatic 28 39 32 27 37 31
1.8L Manual 29 40 33 28 38 32
Elantra GT 1.8L Automatic 28 39 32 27 37 30
1.8L Manual 27 39 31 26 37 30
Genesis 3.8L Automatic 19 29 22 18 28 22
5.0L R-Spec Automatic 16 25 19 16 25 18
Santa Fe Sport 2WD 2.0L T Automatic 21 31 25 20 27 23
2.4L Automatic 22 33 26 21 29 24
Santa Fe Sport 4WD 2.0L T Automatic 20 27 22 19 24 21
2.4L Automatic 21 28 23 20 26 22
Tucson 2WD 2.0L Automatic 23 31 26 22 29 25
2.0L Manual 20 27 23 20 26 22
2.4L Automatic 22 32 25 21 30 25
Tucson 4WD 2.4L Automatic 21 28 23 20 27 23
Veloster 1.6L Automatic 29 40 33 28 37 31
1.6L T Automatic 25 34 29 24 31 28
Veloster 1.6L Manual 28 40 32 27 37 31
1.6L T Manual 26 38 30 24 35 28

 

 

Kia affected Models List

 Original figuresRevised figures
YearModelTrimEngineTransmissionDriveFuel TypeCityHwy
 
Comb
CityHwy
 
Comb
2011 Optima HEV Any 2.4L Automatic 2WD Regular 35 40 37 34 39 36
 
Original figures

Revised figures
2012 Rio Any 1.6L Automatic 2WD Regular 30 40 33 28 36 31
Any 1.6L Manual 2WD Regular 30 40 34 29 37 32
Sorento Any 2.4L Automatic 2WD Regular 22 32 25 21 30 24
Any 2.4L Automatic 4WD Regular 21 28 23 20 26 22
Soul Any 1.6L Automatic 2WD Regular 27 35 30 25 30 27
Any 1.6L Manual 2WD Regular 27 35 30 25 30 27
Any 2.0L Automatic 2WD Regular 26 34 29 23 28 25
Any 2.0L Manual 2WD Regular 26 34 29 24 29 26
Soul ECO Any 1.6L Automatic 2WD Regular 29 36 32 26 31 28
Any 2.0L Automatic 2WD Regular 27 35 30 24 29 26
Sportage Any 2.0L Automatic 2WD Regular 22 29 24 21 28 24
Any 2.4L Automatic 2WD Regular 22 32 25 21 30 25
Any 2.4L Manual 2WD Regular 21 29 24 20 27 23
Sportage Any 2.0L Automatic 4WD Regular 21 26 23 20 25 22
Any 2.4L Automatic 4WD Regular 21 28 24 20 27 23
Optima HEV Any 2.4L Automatic 2WD Regular 35 40 37 34 39 36
2013 Rio Any 1.6L Automatic 2WD Regular 30 40 33 28 36 31
Any 1.6L Manual 2WD Regular 30 40 34 29 37 32
Any 1.6L Automatic (Eco) 2WD Regular 31 40 34 30 36 32
Sorento Any 2.4L Automatic 2WD Regular 22 32 25 21 30 24
Any 2.4L Automatic 4WD Regular 21 28 23 20 26 22
Soul Any 1.6L Automatic 2WD Regular 27 35 30 25 30 27
Any 1.6L Manual 2WD Regular 27 35 30 25 30 27
Any 2.0L Automatic 2WD Regular 26 34 29 23 28 25
Any 2.0L Manual 2WD Regular 26 34 29 24 29 26
Soul ECO Any 1.6L Automatic 2WD Regular 29 36 32 26 31 28
Any 2.0L Automatic 2WD Regular 27 35 30 24 29 26
Sportage Any 2.0L Automatic 2WD Regular 22 29 24 21 28 24
Any 2.4L Automatic 2WD Regular 22 32 25 21 30 25
Any 2.4L Manual 2WD Regular 21 29 24 20 27 23
Sportage Any 2.0L Automatic 4WD Regular 21 26 23 20 25 22
Any 2.4L Automatic 4WD Regular 21 28 24 20 27 23

 

 

 

 

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