Auto-makers put on notice over inflated mileage

Will U.S. auto-makers pay more attention to the claims they make about the mileage drivers can get from their cars?

Greater scrutiny is expected now that South Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia have been ordered to pay a total of $100 million in fines, and $250 million in other penalties, for overstating the miles-per-gallon claims on 1.2 million vehicles.

The settlement, announced Monday by the EPA, was praised by environmental groups.

“Consumers deserve accurate information on emissions and fuel economy when they go to the showroom,” Luke Tonachel, a senior vehicles analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Los Angeles Times.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy declined to comment on whether other auto companies, like Ford, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — all of which have restated their own fuel-economy claims — would face any punishment.

According to The Detroit News:

“This is by far the most egregious case,” McCarthy told reporters, referring to Hyundai and Kia. She said the “discrepancies” by other automakers were “not as systemic.” She called testing by the Korean automakers “systemically flawed” and not in line with “normal engineering practices and inconsistent with how any other automaker has been doing this.”

As Bloomberg notes, vehicle owners curious about whether they can collect money can visit hyundaimpginfo.com and kiampginfo.com.

The L.A. Times says EPA investigators learned that Hyundai and Kia, corporate siblings who are South Korea’s two largest auto-makers, “chose favorable results rather than average results from a large number of tests that go into the certification of the fuel economy ratings.” The companies blamed the inflated results on “procedural errors.”

Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said: “I am quite certain that automakers will be paying attention to this announcement. They don’t want to find themselves in this same situation.”

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