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Hyundai, Kia Owners Seek $775 Million Over Fuel Economy Fibs

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Less than a week after the Environmental Protection Agency announced that not one, not two, but 13 Hyundai and Kia models failed to meet their advertised fuel-economy ratings, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against the two Korean automakers.

According to Reuters, the suit -- which hasn't officially been granted class-action status yet -- was filed in the U.S. District Court  for Central California. The plaintiffs are 23 Hyundai and Kia owners who seek $775 million in damages.

There's more where that came from

Technically, this is the third lawsuit targeting Hyundai and Kia for inaccurate fuel-efficiency claims. 

Another was filed in Ohio earlier this week on behalf of three plaintiffs: one Ohio resident who purchased a 2012 Kia Rio, and a Canadian couple who now own a 2013 Hyundai Elantra. That lawsuit doesn't appear to seek class-action status, but it does ask for $5 million in damages.

And back in July, the consumer watchdog group aptly named Consumer Watchdog filed a lawsuit asking for unspecified damages on behalf of one Hyundai Elantra owner in Sacramento, California. That suit did seek class-action status, though there's no indication that's been granted.

Hyundai and Kia spokespersons have declined to comment on the new lawsuit. However, in response to the Ohio case, Hyundai's Chris Hosford said earlier this week that the automaker's proposed reimbursement program (detailed here) is the fastest and most customer-friendly way to resolve the issue.

If successful, this latest lawsuit could dramatically increase Hyundai and Kia's cost of resolving these fuel-efficiency misstatements. As we discussed on Friday, annual compensation for the 900,000 U.S. vehicles affected is conservatively estimated at $80 million -- an expenditure that will continue for as long as owners retain those vehicles.

However, Moody's Investor's Service suggests that the reimbursement plan should run closer to $100 million per year (though that figure may include an additional 172,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold in Canada).

If class-action status is granted in this latest case, that would reduce Hyundai and Kia's annual burden, but the upfront cost of payouts would be enormous. And of course, not every Hyundai and Kia owner is likely to sign onto the lawsuit, meaning that if the suits prevail in court, the automakers will be making payouts on both fronts.

What's next?

  • If you own one of the 13 affected models -- the Hyundai Accent, Azera, Elantra, Genesis, Santa Fe, Sonata Hybrid, Tucson, or Veloster, or the Kia Optima Hybrid, Rio, Sorento, Soul, or Sportage -- and you want to take part in one of the two class-action lawsuits, sit tight. Should either reach that stage, you'll likely receive something in the mail from the plaintiffs' law firm.
  • If you own one of those models and aren't interested in the lawsuits, you can visit or to start the ball rolling on your compensation claim.
  • If you own a different Hyundai or Kia vehicle, be patient. The EPA will likely conduct audits on other models soon, and who knows what they'll turn up?
  • Last but not least, if you're shopping for a new car and have your eye on a Hyundai or Kia, Hyundai's John Krafcik says that window stickers on showroom vehicles have been amended to reflect accurate fuel economy stats. Well, at least for the 13 models included in the EPA's first audit.

If you've bought a Hyundai or Kia in the past three years -- especially one of the models included in the EPA audit -- share your thoughts and plans below.

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Comments (28)
  1. Make them buy the cars back!!!!! Owners may have decided to buy these cars based on false advertising and could well have purchased a car from an honest manufacturer so make KIA & Hyundai buy them back. Let them choke on them.

  2. I totally agree

  3. Ok...I have read the first complaint when it hit the news wire. All I can state, the owner is clueless when it comes to driving the common freeway speeds here in southern Cali (70-80mph). You are simply not going to get 40MPG. Amongst those who are Kia and Hyundai owners, stated the same. Now, not even the hybrids (Prius) receive more than 35-40MPH at that speed. So what gives? Not counting the clueless owner, when it comes to lawsuits, the greed and the lazy (I rather not work for a living) will always jump onto the band wagon. Remember this term – BREAD AND CIRCUS.
    The best thing for Hyundai corp. is to hire a top civil US attorney and stop apology. I know it is their custom to be first to apologies, which Japanese no longer have t

  4. Actually, Steven, they've been found guilty by the EPA, which conducted a full battery of tests on 13 Hyundai and Kia models. Even in lab settings, the EPA couldn't match Hyundai and Kia's advertised fuel economy.

    For their part, Hyundai and Kia have admitted fault, so there's no going back. And the situation may get worse, as the EPA conducts more audits of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

  5. EPA estimates are not meant to represent what you will actually achieve - it is simply a common measurement for you to assess which models are more fuel efficient. Your driving habits and conditions will affect your FE results.
    The problem here appears to be more than an error - it is widespread and seems to cover all their newer models, strongly indicating a pattern of behavior vs errors. I think that a buyback is appropriate in addition to fines.

  6. But unlike CAFE estimates -- which are based on a mathematical formula and are significantly higher than real-world figures -- EPA estimates are based in reality. Even though you might not achieve the advertised EPA rating in your vehicle, some drivers will, and the EPA can achieve/verify that in an audit. If EPA estimates were just pulled out of thin air, there'd be no point in having EPA ratings at all.

  7. Actually EPA estimates are not based on real world conditions at all! If you go to and read what guidelines are used to determine MPG estimates you will see the vehicles are tested at speeds much lower then those of most roads. 21 MPH city and 48 MPH highway speeds are used, the vehicles are tested indoors on a belt, no A/C used! Do your homework before you run you mouth big shot...

  8. Preach it!!!

  9. I bought a 2012 kia soul affected by this mess. I have to say that I bought this car because of the proposed good gas mileage!! I bought it for my company car and have to travel miles and miles a year for my work. On the first trip I had to stop every 180 miles or so to fill up!!!! I could not make it 200 miles!!! without filling up!! I am really upset about this, and the reimbursment they offer according to their website calculator is $160 dollars???? WHAT!!!?? I don't think so!

  10. The Soul has a very unique body and style - people who say they bought this car just for good gas mileage are lying. I think the car is ugly and would not buy it even if it got 50 MPG! If your main objective is fuel economy the Soul is not your best choice! And of you Americans are lazy, pathetic, greedy people! Everyone wants to claim a piece of the pie and claim they hate their car and never would of bought it had they known it got 1-6 MPG less! Honestly, how many of you _Sorento and Sportage owners) really care about 1 mile! You don't! You're just greedy and see an opportunity to cash in! Kia is not the only manufacturer under scrutiny by the EPA for overstated MPG claims - Ford is as well and I am sure soon others will be too.

  11. I too bought my Kia Soul 2012 under the assumption that I would get mid 30's for gas mileage when in reality I get 22.... Big disappointment, and I agree with MARK SCHMAKER... Make them buy the cars back!!!!! The 236.00 estimated reimbursement amount for me is pathetic. Unless they plan on giving me that amount every month for the life of my car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I would have bought something completely different had i knew the truth about the MPG

  13. I agree.

  14. My 2011 Kia soul exclaim gets 11-17 in the City. 22-28 on the highway at 65 mph. I may be forced to sell it at a loss. I feel ripped off. I'd really like my $20,000 back plus damages. I am wondering if any car gets anywhere near what they claim.

  15. I rent many cars for travel with work and have driven the Soul on many trips - if you're only getting 11-17 MPG (which by the way is a big range and you should really calculate out your MPG) then you are doing something wrong. Maybe you don't understand how to drive correctly? Sounds like you may be an aggressive driver...

  16. I want to take part in the class-action lawsuit. We did a lot of research before forking over $30K for a 2012 Kia Sorento. Sticker showed 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway, but actual numbers are 12-13 mpg city/16-21 mpg highway! We've already made a claim with Kia and I just received a Visa debit gas card for $29! We can't afford to 'dump' the car; we'd lose thousands in depreciation right off. Who wants to buy a 4 cylinder that gets worse mileage than most big v-8 trucks?

  17. I feel and understand your frustration. In the same situation.

  18. The Kia Soul 2012 mpg is a huge disappointment! The main reason it was purchased was the supposedly mpg (34 hwy). I'm glad to have come across this article and the possibility of a class action lawsuit is in the works.

  19. Documented 22 mpg on 2012 Sorento 4 cyl. Bought vehicle for fuel economy and to join green revolution with sticker advertising 28 to 33 mpg. Most disappointed and angry at having been scammed.

  20. You bought an SUV to join the Green Revolution?!?! You've got to be kidding me! If you wanted to really go green then why not a Hybrid? And as far as an advertised 28 MPG to 33 MPG sticker rating - that is bogus. My wife drives a 2012 4 cyl Sorento and the window sticker ESTIMATED an MPG of 22 MPG city and 32 MPG highway, with that being said YOU ARE GETTING THE LISTED STICKER ESTIMATES BEFORE THE ADJUSTMENT!

  21. Further, the 22 mpg is not city driving - it as 95% rural or highway driving for the 4 cyl Sorento.

  22. You should really read up on fuel economy and how the EPA rates/tests these vehicles. Had you done your homework you would know that ANY amount of city driving (even from your home to the highway) puts you in the combined category. Furthermore the EPA estimates are reached with an average highway speed of 48 MPH - my guess is you go faster and therefore will NOT get the estimated numbers. Your real issues should be with the EPA and their testing guidelines, look them up (

  23. If you go to their mileage reimbursement site, they'll try to screw you out of about 75% of what you actually have coming to you. WOW...what a PR and customer service fiasco! They would've been much better off just being honest in the first place.

  24. I bought this car for its mpg advertisement and pushed by the dealer. Only to find out this 2013 model does not get forty mpg on the highway using cruise control but actually 31 mpg, based on fuel consumption . I complained to the dealer which stated the computer had to be reprogrammed which they did not do. Six months later this car was on recall. KIA offered a debit card for the difference of only three percent which you go threw hoops to get does not work for their is no money in the account like they said it was . P.S. the dealer will not accept it for payment of changing the oil. KIA should buy this car back for openly lying about their car`s performance!!!

  25. Part I of IV. The class action has NOT settled yet. The case is still at stage one of a two step process. Hyundai and Kia want the class action settlement to provide affected car owners with about $400 per car owner (an Inglewood Small claims court awarded similar 
damages to one plaintiff of $700 and Hyundai had agreed to pay it which is $300 more than they now propose), while Virginia owners of the Elantra want the full purchase price refunded (around $14,000 per vehicle depending on down payment) plus treble damages.

  26. Part II of IV. Hyundai and some of its dealers have admitted in court documents (1) that they cannot tell dealers to provide warranty service to your vehicle and (2) that their dealers can refuse you warranty service. This contradicts the warranty where Hyundai
promises the dealer will service your vehicle. No wonder Virginia Hyundai owners want the full
purchase price refunded plus treble damages. It is sad that some of the California class action plaintiffs
fight against the full refund. Let's hope the Judge either requires the settlement to include full purchase refund or allow the Virginia plaintiffs to separate from the class action and pursue their case to trial.


  28. Part IV and IV. “The Court's Tentative Ruling is circulated and attached hereto. Court hears oral argument. For reasons stated on the record, the above-entitled motions are continued to July 24, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. Plaintiffs will have until July 7, 2014 to file their supplemental briefs and revised notice and forms. Responses will be filed by July 16, 2014. Any reply will be filed by noon on July 21, 2014. Court Reporter: Katie Thibodeaux. (lom) (Entered: 06/27/2014)" . There is also a related Los Angeles bankruptcy case that names Hyundai Capital America dba Hyundai Motor Finance moving thru bankruptcy and the bankruptcy appellate panel. Hyundai Capital America is represented by lawyers from.

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