April 16, 2014

Hyundai U.S. fuel economy mess cleverly sorted

Hyundai and Kia’s misstated fuel economy figures in the U.S. could have been a PR disaster, but it looks like prompt action has limited any real damage.

Photo of US Hyundai

We moan constantly about ‘Official’ fuel economy figures (yes, we moan a lot). They’re good for nothing except limited comparison between the efficiency of different cars from different car makers.

Worse than that, no cars are subject to independent fuel economy testing but are simply put through a series of laboratory tests by car makers to come up with a figure. And then, to compound that, those artificial figures are used to come up with a CO2 emissions figure. That’s right, there are no CO2 emission tests at all, simply a figure extrapolated from the official economy figures.

So it’s no huge surprise that car makers can cock-up from time to time with official economy numbers, something Hyundai and Kia managed to do in the U.S. recently when they overstated economy on their range of cars by the odd mpg or two.

That led to an EPA investigation in the U.S and a slap on the wrist for the Koreans (and the threat of law suits from disgruntled owners – this is America), all of which could have been a PR disaster for Hyundai and Kia.

But Hyundai didn’t get where they are (thanks to CJ for the use of that line) by being slow on the uptake, so they jumped in quickly when the unpleasant stuff hit the fan with a compensation plan for owners which reimbursed them for their ‘losses’, added 15 per cent extra for good measure and made that ongoing for as long as they owned their car. Which isn’t a cheap option, but it’s a lot cheaper than the PR disaster it could have been.

In fact, according to Hyundai’s U.S boss, John Krafcik, 90 per cent of Hyundai owners are actually rather chuffed with the solution. He said:

Our Hyundai dealers are focused on doing a great job of explaining the reimbursement program to those owners, and they are pulling out all the stops to delight them.

It’s difficult to put a number on satisfaction for programs like this one, but right now I can tell you that 90 percent of those people who have visited our dealerships for verification of their odometer reading are really satisfied with the reimbursement program. That’s a great result. In fact, it’s a higher level of satisfaction we’ve seen compared to any other dealers service campaign we’ve done.

We’re treating this like the serious matter it is and we’re treating each customer like we would want to be treated. We’re owning this issue, we’re letting folks know we care, and we’re making it right for them – again, for as long as they own their cars

Which is good news for Hyundai, and a good illustration of how a prompt ‘Mea Culpa’ is so much better than blame and obfuscation.

If only John Krafcik hadn’t said ‘We’re owning this issue’. Argghhh!

Source: Autoblog

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  1. Just look deeper into this: Foreign auto makers can lie like Hollywood, our local makers can lie even more than Hollywood. We should look into auto makers corporation culture and power structures that are repressing economical electric cars. They are packaging electric car technologies with expensive components to stop its economical development for almost another decade now.

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