South-Korean automaker Hyundai announced last week that it achieved a fleet-wide corporate average fuel economy of 36 mpg across its entire 2011 range. 

In doing so, Hyundai has essentially met U.S. 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards set for cars and light-duty trucks four years early. 

But one of the cars which helped Hyundai reach the gas mileage goal is proving to be a political hot-potato amidst claims that it cannot achieve anywhere near its official EPA gas mileage rating in real-life. 

Last month, advocacy group Consumer Watchdog petitioned the EPA to retest the 2011 Hyundai Elantra after many customers complained that they were regularly getting gas mileage figures in the mid-20s -- well short of its official 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway EPA rating. 

The claims aren’t representative of most Hyundai customers, says Hyundai America CEO John Krafcik. 

2011 Hyundai Elantra

2011 Hyundai Elantra

Talking with Wards,  Krafcik seemed almost puzzled about claims that the Elantra was not delivering on gas mileage. 

“We’re not sure who the vocal people are, and who might be representing the vocal people, but we do know this: in a very large (sample) survey by J.D. Power of 2011 car buyers, the Elantra got better real-world fuel economy than any other competitor,” he said. 

The EPA’s rating, Krafcik insists, is accurate. Instead, he blames urban Elantra drivers for the uproar.

“Typically, what we find is these are urban drivers who have a lot of time, much more time than they realize, just sitting and idling at a stop sign,” he explained. “When we show them that’s much more severe than the EPA city-cycle, and that here are some tips on how you can drive the car, the light bulb goes off.”

Regardless of the disagreements over 2011 Elantra gas mileage, the milestone of reaching a 36 mpg fleet-wide average economy should not be ignored, and places Hyundai well ahead some of its rivals in the green car marketplace. 


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