Hyundai, Kia Rapped By EPA Over Misstated MPG Stickers

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2013 Kia Soul

2013 Kia Soul

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The EPA has ordered Kia and Hyundai to amend window stickers on 13 models from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 model years after the two companies were found to be misstating the cars' true efficiency.

The companies will also have to pay damages to 900,000 owners across the U.S.

According to Associated Press (via our sister site, TheCarConnection), the models were red-flagged after customers found they were struggling to get anywhere near the official fuel figures on several cars.

Vehicles featuring EPA sticker discrepancies include the Hyundai Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis, Santa Fe, Sonata Hybrid, Tucson and Veloster. Kia vehicles which require re-stickering include the Optima Hybrid, Rio, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

The figures for most vehicles will change by only 1 or 2 mpg in certain measurements. Others, like the Soul, will lose up to six miles per gallon.

Compensation will depend on just how far out the stated efficiency was. Owners will be paid a rate based on how far they've driven the vehicle since buying it new, multiplied by how much less they would have spent on gas in that time, plus a 15 percent premium.

Kia's Michael Sprague says a car with a 1 mpg discrepancy and 15,000 miles on the odometer would receive $88.03 in compensation, including the 15 percent. A Kia Soul, out by 6 mpg and with several thousand more miles on the odometer, could be in line to receive a large amount of money.

Both companies have apologized unconditionally for the errors, and blame an administrative and procedural error, rather than deliberate intention.

Window stickers on new Hyundais and Kias have already been changed.

Any owners wishing to make a claim for their 2011-2013 Hyundai or Kia should visit or


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Comments (18)
  1. So much for the Elantra "40 MPG no Asterisk" campaign. Guess the Asterisk will say, "but we cheated."

  2. And for Hyundai's challenge to other car companies to report "number of vehicles sold with more than 40 mpg" Huh...

    Hyundai is now looks like it has sold ZERO models with 40 mpg or more.


  3. But it sure helped with Hyundai's sales recently...

  4. I think this also reflect the "EPA estimate" is really NOT an EPA test anyway.

    It is really an EPA guideline where all auto makers suppose to adhere and then submit the final test results to EPA for review. EPA doesn't really do the test on each and every model.

    So, if the automakers "cheat" then, it just submit "skewed" data to EPA. The only EPA can do something about it is by hiring independent consultant to verify the data through a 3rd party testing according to the EPA guideline and compare data.

    The only way to "prevent" any automaker from "cheating" is by the threat of "fines" and "sanction"...

    That does bring up the question of the recent flurry of "high" MPG midsize hybrids and sedans that get close to 40mpg.

  5. Does Altima really do 38mpg? Does Fusion hybrid really produce 47mpg on the hwy? Does C-Max (@ 3,600lbs) really produce 47mpg? Does Chevy Cruze Eco really produce 40mpg? Does Chevy Equinox really get 32mpg as an SUV? Does Lexus ES Hybrid really get corresponding EPA rating?

    Also, one thing to point out is the fact that those EPA rating are assumed with 100% gas, not one of those 10% Ethanol mixes. I know for a fact that all the cars that I own lose about 5-7% in MPG when I use the 10% Ethanol mix...

  6. It seems the C-Max is getting closer to 40 than 47, at least in initial reports.

  7. You are correct that all of the tests are done with pure gasoline. Your deterioration on 10% ethanol might be a bit high. Ethanol has around 33% less energy than gasoline, so the expected reduction in economy per gallon should be around 3-4%.

    As for your other comments, I would say it depends a lot on how you drive. But I'm going to bet that all of those fuel economy labels were derived with "clean" tests strictly according to EPA specifications.

  8. 3-4% is purely on "energy" ratio. Some engine are more sensitive to it than others. 3-4% on a 30mpg car is only about 1 mpg. But I clearly lose about 2 mpg on a 30mpg car. It happened on the Accord EX V-6 with cylinder devativation.

  9. This statement is not correct. The fuel economy label is not just a guideline. The label is derived using a very specific set of EPA tests which include dynamometer settings, temperature, and speed. The EPA site I noted in a comment later is a good place to go to better understand the procedures.

    EPA audits around 15% of the tests annually in their Ann Arbor lab. All of the manufacturer labs and the EPA lab are very heavily correlated. If the EPA finds a statistically significant discrepency, they call the manufacturer in and reach a conclusion on what to do. Prior to Hyundai/Kia, BMW had to adopt the lower EPA lab results for a specific vehicle. But H/K seem to have "overestimated" over a large range of vehicles. Suspicious.

  10. Well, I was incorrect in using the word guidelines. It should be "rules" set by EPA. But it is still tests carried out by the automakers. So, there are "variances"...

  11. 1. This is a big deal; this type of "correction" is very rare.

    2. Manufacturers perform fuel economy testing in their own labs using a very specific set of tests. See

    3. Tests are performed on a dynamometer with prototypes, but the powertrain calibration has to be at production level (i.e., you can't have a different calibration for certification and another for production).

    4. EPA audits around 15% of vehicles in their Ann Arbor lab

    5. There is a big difference between a vehicle that doesn't perform well in real life vs. the label fuel economy, and a company that somehow had "procedural problems" that caused them to report economy that is exagerated over a range of vehicles.

  12. On your #3 point, how does EPA controls the "Firmware" updates. Many of the computers today have "adaptive" control in tuning the engine for power and efficiency.

    also, I agree on #5. There are ways to "tune" the car to pass EPA rules with flying color but don't do well in real world driving... That is different from "cheating" the EPA rules.

  13. Sorry, I don't know how the tests account for adaptive calibrations.

    A couple of other comments:

    1. There are car-to-car variances. Sometimes a vehicle will perform exceptionally well (called a "flyer"). This result can be used, but if it is not typical, it could be audited and the label reduced (happened to BMW).

    2. Calibration code is sophisticated. I suppose it's possible that a vehicle would be able to recognize when it's being tested and modify the calibration. But that would be cheating. And I truly believe that most manufacturers are honest in their testing.

    3. The decision with H/K is unprecedented. Label too high over a wide range. Very, very suspicious. Nobody is using the word "cheating", but I wonder...

  14. Xiaolong - I agree on the second point, a particular pet hate of mine. Always irritating to drive a car that has been deliberately designed to meet specific economy tests, as it often results in compromised driving characteristics - poor gearing, slow throttle response etc. I'd rather something that works in the real world...

  15. H/K could easily have had an ongoing procedural error in how testing was accomplished. This would highlight a broader issue with confirming test procedures are consistent at various test lab locations. Lack of certifying the test procedures, and/or the test results allows errors to go unnoticed.

    In electronics industry, manufactures are required to submit their produces to independent labs for certification. Perhaps it's time auto manufactures are required to preform similar 3rd party certified testing?

  16. There are 2 major factors used in setting the resistance of the dyno rollers in the test lab:

    1. Weight. Vehicles are measured with all options over 33% installation rate. That places the vehicle in a specific weight band for testing.

    2. Coastdown. Vehicles coast down from a set speed to a full stip under controlled conditions. This test measures aerodynamics, tire rolling resistance, and other friction factors (bearings, etc.).

    The Detroit Free Press is reporting that H/K's coastdown procedures might be at the root of the problem. More here:

  17. A relatively weak penalty on manufactures failing to correctly state EPA data. Even though owners are being reimbursed for extra gasoline used (+15%) on already accumulated milage, they will continue paying extra penalties on future milage! In addition owners likely will encounter higher vehicle depreciation values when selling, particularly in first year or two; greatly impacting out of pocket & total cost of ownership!

    The penalty paid by owners is much greater than paid by manufactures. This seems to be little incentive to manufactures to insure future EPA data is valid! Expecting we'll see more issues with EPA data as requirements move to higher MPG values, (where MPG differences are increasingly magnified).

  18. I am only getting 28mpg highway with my 2013 Hyundai Elantra. NOT happy.

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