Hagens Berman has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Hyundai Motor America, owned by Hyundai Motor Company of Korea (KSE: 005380.KS) and Kia Motors America, owned jointly by Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motor Company of Korea (KSE: 000270.KS) after regulators announced the companies overstated the fuel economy for many vehicles they sold in the United States.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Central California, seeks to represent all consumers who own or lease Hyundai and Kia vehicles whose EPA fuel economy ratings were less than the fuel economy rating produced by the applicable federal test in that model’s year.
Hyundai Motor Corporation admitted it overstated the fuel-economy estimates after independent tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed a discrepancy.
According to published reports, Hyundai will lower fuel-consumption estimates on most Hyundai and Kia models produced in 2012 and 2013. It will reportedly lower estimates by as much as five miles-per-gallon for its Kia Soul Eco., and by one or two miles-per-gallon for most other models.
The automaker apologized to consumers, according to published reports, and blamed the issue on what the South Korean company called "procedural errors" in its testing, which was done by a Korean lab.
“Many who purchased Kia and Hyundai automobiles did so because of the claims of fuel economy the company made to consumers,” said Rob Carey, the attorney representing the proposed class and managing partner of the Phoenix office of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.
“Regardless of how the errors occurred, the end result is the same – consumers overpaid for what they received, and a very slight difference on the low-end of fuel efficiency can make a big difference over the course of a year,” Carey added.
Hyundai also announced plans to reimburse purchasers through a complex plan requiring owners to visit a dealership to verify mileage. The company intends to reimburse owners for the difference in the company’s reported fuel economy rating and the EPA rating based on local fuel prices.
“While we think there are some laudable aspects to the company’s approach to addressing the issues, we feel that consumers have rights under California law not yet addressed by the automakers,” Carey added.
The suit was filed for a Seattle woman who purchased a 2012 Hyundai Accent; an Arizona man who purchased a Hyundai Genesis sedan; and an Arizona woman who purchased a Hyundai Genesis sedan, and a Illinois man who purchased a 2012 Kia Sorento, all relying on the fuel-economy numbers provided by the car manufacturer.
The suit contends that Hyundai violated California’s Unfair Competition Law; its false advertising law and its consumer legal remedy act. The suit also claims that Hyundai committed a breach of express warranty and committed fraud and negligent misrepresentation under California Common Law, among other violations.
Hagens Berman has a long, successful record of representing consumer interests in litigation against Hyundai.
Individuals who purchased a 2012 or 2013 Hyundai or Kia vehicle may contact Hagens Berman by calling 602-224-2650, or by emailing HyundaiKiaMPG@hbsslaw.com.
Question: What is this case about?
Answer: We have filed two class actions against Hyundai and Kia—one on November 2, 2012, and the other on November 6, 2012. Both suits are about whether Hyundai and Kia used flawed EPA-required testing methods to establish mileage estimates, and as a result of those flawed tests the mileage estimates were higher than they should have been. It is not a case about the vehicles not getting good gas mileage in general. We are seeking relief to get class members compensation for all harm to the vehicle, not just the harm that occurs before a sale. And we are seeking to get a lump-sum award, not a payment plan over the life of the vehicle. Owners have been damaged because their vehicles currently do not get the mileage promised, so the damage is immediate and quantifiable.
Question: What if my vehicle is not one of the ones identified by Hyundai and Kia?
Answer: Hyundai and Kia have identified certain vehicles that they believe were tested incorrectly. These vehicles include the following models and model years:
• Accent (2012-2013)
• Azera (2012-2013)
• Elantra (2011-2013)
• Genesis (2012-2013)
• Santa Fe Sport (2013)
• Sonata Hybrid (2011-2012)
• Tucson (2012-2013)
• Veloster (2012-2013)
• Optima Hybrid (2011-2012)
• Rio (2012-2013)
• Sorento (2012-2013 models with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines)
• Soul (2012-2013)
• Sportage (2012-2013)
If you own or lease one of the models listed above, you are included in the class.
Also, we are very early in the litigation, so it may be that other vehicles were subject to flawed testing,
but we will not know that until we conduct discovery.
Question: What if I am eligible for the reimbursement program?
Answer: If Hyundai or Kia has informed you that you are eligible for the reimbursement program, you can play it safe and not take the reimbursement, or you can take the reimbursement but risk that you may have agreed to release or waive your claims somehow or limited yourself to non-class recovery.
Question: What if I think the reimbursement program is insufficient?
Answer: Our suit argues that the reimbursement program established by Hyundai and Kia is insufficient. It should be noted, however, that a 1 MPG improvement does reduce fuel consumption, and thereby, fuel costs. According to an example from the EPA, a vehicle driven 15,000 miles per year with a 10 MPG estimate saves around 136 gallons per year over a vehicle with an 11 MPG estimate, while a vehicle with a 35 MPG estimate would save about 12 gallons per year over one with a 36 MPG estimate. If the class actions are successful, the end result will be that a fair allocation method will be figured out, and the monies owed will be distributed up front, not over time.
Question: What if I want Hyundai or Kia to buy back my vehicle?
Answer: Hyundai’s and Kia’s flawed EPA testing methods do not create a safety issue. A buyback of the vehicles affected is not a remedy available for this type of violation, and we do not anticipate seeking rescission or revocation of acceptance on the facts as we know them.
Question: How long will this litigation take?
Answer: We filed our complaints against Hyundai and Kia on November 2 and November 6, so we are in the extremely early phase of the litigation process. We have not received an answer from Hyundai or Kia, nor have we conducted discovery. We cannot be sure of what the timeline will be for resolution of the litigation.
Question: When will someone from Hagens Berman get back to me?
Answer: We are receiving many e-mails and phone calls each day, so we may not be able to get back to you immediately, but we will get back to you as soon as possible. E-mail is the quickest way to receive a response, so please sign up by clicking the “Join a Pending Case” on our homepage and selecting “Hyundai Fuel Efficiency” from the dropdown menu, or by e-mailing HyundaiKiaMPG@hbsslaw.com.