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Hyundai, Kia reach multistage settlement over fuel economy claims

• Oct 30, 2016 at 8:00 PM

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that Ohio will receive more than $1.47 million as part of a $41.2 million multistate settlement with Hyundai and Kia to resolve claims that the automakers misrepresented the mileage and fuel economy ratings for some of their model year 2011, 2012, and 2013 vehicles.

The settlement, reached between the attorneys general of 33 states and the District of Columbia and the Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors Corporation, and Kia Motors America, concludes a multistate investigation into the companies' fuel-economy estimates at a time when gasoline prices in the United States were especially high.

“Consumers make purchasing decisions based, in part, on the information they receive from vehicle manufacturers,” Attorney General DeWine said. “It’s important for that information to be accurate and reliable.”

State and federal law sets limits on emissions from vehicles sold in the United States. Before vehicles may be offered for sale in the country, auto manufacturers must conduct testing under mandatory protocols set by government regulators and use the resulting data to support applications demonstrating their vehicles' conformity to those standards.

In November 2012, Hyundai and Kia announced they were adjusting and restating the fuel economy ratings for certain model year 2011, 2012, and 2013 vehicles after it was revealed that the companies had overstated the fuel efficiency of certain vehicles. (At that time, Hyundai and Kia implemented a consumer restitution program, which is ongoing and separate from this settlement.)

The states alleged that Hyundai and Kia incorporated the inflated, inaccurate data into the estimated mileage ratings displayed on the window stickers of hundreds of thousands of cars across the country. The states also alleged that the companies sought to capitalize on the erroneous mileage estimates by placing them prominently in a variety of advertisements and promotional campaigns.

The states alleged that these actions were likely to mislead consumers and influence their decisions to purchase particular vehicles during a time of high gasoline prices. The attorneys general alleged that the automakers’ actions violated state consumer protection laws, including Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Under a consent judgment, which will be presented to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Hyundai and Kia agree not to misrepresent the estimated fuel economy of a new motor vehicle in advertisements. They also agree to pay the participating attorneys general a total of $41,223,320, of which Ohio’s share is $1,473,456.85.

In addition to Ohio, the multistate group – led by the states of Connecticut, Iowa, and Illinois – includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

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