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Hyundai and Kia Get Record Fines Over False Fuel-Economy Claims & Settle For a $41 Million to States, Plus Hyundai Paid Over $300 Million in Fines to the EPA

In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started investigating Kia’s and Hyundai’s widely publicized claims about the superior fuel economy of their vehicles compared to the competitors. 

After receiving numerous complaints from a consumer advocacy group and customers about discrepancies between the advertised fuel economy and real-world performances, what started is “MPG GATE”!

Mileage Rating Difference of 6 MPG in Kia & Hyundai Models found by EPA

The agency found that the difference in mileage ratings for some of Kia’s models was as much as 6 miles per gallon, whereas discrepancies in Hyundai’s models fuel economy were between 1 and 2 miles per gallon.

Now, two years after the start of the investigation, in times when gas prices hit record low, the EPA has concluded that the two South Korean automakers violated the Clean Air Act by overstating the fuel economy of their vehicles, and has announced that the companies will have to pay around $300 million in fines.

Note: To check fuel economy for any vehicles visit Fueleconomy.gov.

Current MPG of 2017 Hyundai Vehicles

2017 ModelCombined MPG City - HighwayMPG City / Highway
Hyundai Accent3026 / 36
Hyundai Azera2219 / 28
Hyundai Elantra3228 / 37
Hyundai Elantra GT 2926 / 36
Hyundai Ioniq5555 / 54
Hyundai Ioniq Electric136150 / 122
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport FWD2320 / 28
Hyundai Sonata2925 / 36
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid4038 / 43
Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid3999 Elec / Gas
Hyundai Tucson AWD2826 / 32
Hyundai Veloster2825 / 33

Penalties Reach 300 Million Dollars by EPA & 41 Million for States

Hyundai and Kia have reached a settlement with the government, getting hit with collective penalties from the EPA, the Department of Justice, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

2011 Kia Soul had a stated MPG 26 city / 34 highway and the actual MPG was 23 city / 28 highway.

Image Credit: Cars.com

The companies, that are part of Hyundai Motor Group – which was ranked as the world’s fifth largest car manufacturer last year – will have to pay a combined $100 million in civil fines, which is the largest fine issued by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, setting a precedent and example for other automakers who might want to report false mileage test results in the future.

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Kia & Hyundai Have to Hire Independent Certification Company to Verify MPG Tests

On top of the $100 million in civil penalties, Hyundai and Kia have forfeited environmental credits worth about $200, and will have to change the way they conduct their tests, which will include hiring an independent certification company to verify test results, that will cost them an additional $50 million.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is another vehicle with over stated MPG with 22 MPG and the actual was 18.

Image Credit: CarandDriver.com

Last year, the companies already spent almost $400 million to settle class-action lawsuits and compensate owners.

The Majority of Vehicles Sold with Over-Stated MPG Were Sold in the US

According to the EPA, the automakers overstated the mileage ratings of about 1.2 million vehicles, including models like the Elantra, Accent, and Soul, which are some of their most popular and best-selling cars. They were all sold in North America, 900,000 of which in the United States.

David Zuchowski, the CEO and president of Hyundai Motor America, said that:

“Hyundai has acted transparently, reimbursed affected customers and fully cooperated with the EPA throughout the course of its investigation.

We are pleased to put this behind us, and gratified that even with our adjusted fuel economy ratings, Hyundai continues to lead the automotive industry in fuel efficiency and environmental performance.”

2017 Gas Mileage of Kia Model Vehicles

2017 ModelCombined MPG City - HighwayMPG City / Highway
Kia Cadenza2320 / 28
Kia Forte2825 / 33
Kia Forte Koup2825 / 33
Kia Forte 5 2825 / 34
Kia K900 2017 / 25
Kia Niro4951 / 46
Kia Optima Hybrid4239 / 46
Kia Optima 3128 / 37
Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid40103 Elec / Gas
Kia Rio3027 / 36
Kia Sedona2018 / 24
Kia Sorento FWD2421 / 28
Kia Sorento AWD2219 / 25
Kia Sportage FWD2522 / 29
Kia Soul2725 / 30

Kia & Hyundai Attempt to Improve MPG by 20 Percent by Year 2020

In an attempt to remedy this situation and preserve their reputation, both Kia and Hyundai announced that they will try to improve fuel economy by 25 percent by 2020, which will also help them meet stricter emissions standards in United States and Europe.

Final Thoughts & Other Auto Companies Adjusted Mileage Ratings

This record-setting penalty could have a huge impact on the auto industry in the future, forcing car manufacturers to obey fuel economy testing regulations, and review their testing procedures.

As a matter of fact, several companies, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW, have already adjusted their mileage ratings in light of EPA’s investigation involving Kia and Hyundai.

Jordan Perch

Jordan Perch

Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “safe driving” specialist. His expertise includes subjects like traffic regulations and green car technologies. He is a writer for DMV.com, which is a collaborative community designed to help ease the stress and annoyance of “dealing with the DMV”.

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