Cash or Coupon for Honda Civic Hybrid Owners In Mileage Lawsuit

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Angular Front Exterior View - 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid 4-door Sedan

Angular Front Exterior View - 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid 4-door Sedan

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If you're one of the 120,000 people who own a Honda Civic Hybrid made between 2003 and 2008, you may already know about the proposed settlement to a lawsuit against Honda contending its advertising overestimated the gas mileage of your car.

If you're not aware of the suit, read up quick.

EPA ratings: 49 mpg city, 51 mpg highway

In brief, two Honda Civic Hybrid owners in California sued the car company, saying that their cars hadn't returned anything like the gas mileage shown on the window sticker. The EPA ratings at the time those cars were sold were 49 mpg city, 51 mpg highway, whereas their cars--says the suit--returned "only" 31 miles per gallon.

The lawsuit specifically doesn't challenge the methods by which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates mileage, which are quite clearly noted as estimates. Remember that old phrase, "Your mileage may vary"?

Is it Honda's fault?

Instead, the suit accuses Honda of not doing enough to tell Civic Hybrid buyers that their mileage might vary from the figures on the window sticker.

That can cut both ways: Owners of Volkswagen TDI clean diesels have boasted for years that their cars get far better mileage than their EPA ratings in real-world use.

Nonetheless, in 2008 the EPA changed its gas-mileage calculation methods, which cut mileage for most cars across the board. The latest 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid is rated at 40 mpg city, 45 mpg highway.

80 gallons a year

The difference in actual gasoline consumption between 33 and 50 miles per gallon (to make the math easy) is 1 gallon every 100 miles, or 80 gallons a year if you drive 8,000 miles. That's because Miles-Per-Gallon is not a linear measure.

At $3 a gallon for gasoline (slightly higher than today's prices), the total annual cost difference would be less than $250. Apparently, that was enough for a lawsuit.

$1,000 if you sell, $500 if you keep the car

Honda argued that it complied with all laws. Nonetheless, the company chose to settle out of court, offering owners a $1,000 discount on a new Honda if the old one is sold, or $500 if the buyer keeps the Civic Hybrid. Or, any owner who can prove that he or she complained to Honda about the mileage will get $100.

The most galling irony of all: Buyers may not use their $1,000 or $500 discounts to buy a Honda Insight or Civic Hybrid, the company's two hybrid models, or the Fit, its high-mileage subcompact.

Why do we suspect that the only winners here are the lawyers?

[The New York Times]

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Comments (6)
  1. It's not the EPA's fault. The tests are very standardized. Every manufacturer has to deal with the number that is approved for them. It sounds like they gave them a ringer, and sold everyone a cheaper version. Those people should have bought an AMERICAN made American car like the Cobalt and saved $8200 (base retail) up front while giving up 4 mpg combined (31 Civic hybrid claim vs 27 EPA Cobalt). And since everyone knows American brand dealers will haggle on price, your price difference may vary!!

  2. Actually, it is Honda's fault. The car was never designed to get much over 30 mpg unless you were "feathering" the accelerator with bare foot.
    The success of Prius in the mpg battle was just too much for Honda and so they "fudged" their hybrid.
    Just don't buy Honda...Toyota is so far ahead of the game and there are going to be so many failures in the next two or three years, especially the Volt...what a laugh. Ask any engineer and Google "Owens Magnetic" to better understand.
    The public will eventually be the meantime, they are "lawful prey" for the unscrupulous.

  3. Owens magnetic. Amazing idea, for 100 years ago. What kind of IGBT's did it use, oh yeah, not invented yet. And it's microprocessor based management was, uh yeah, not invented yet. Of course it's lithium ion batteries could, umm, yeah not invented yet. And it's plug in capable charging gave it what, forty miles of gas free driving - no; all gas powered all the time, sorry about that. Any way, what were you writing about, oh yes education - that's a good thing!
    Better check the Volt again, seems like your comparison misses a thing or two, or a whole lot more.

  4. I have a 2007 Civic Hybrid that gets poor milage. I ran into another owner of a 08 Hybrid that let me drive his car. Got great milage. Honda would not give me a good answer to how this occured. I can't wait for the battery to go bad and shell out more cash. The settlement is a insult.

  5. I have honda civic hybrid 2003 got it from private party, mileage it gives is only 28. How do I claim the $ amount or what is the procedure

  6. In such cases, the lawsuit loans maybe much less than usual cases.

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