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Hyundai Elantra Lawsuit Draws Fuel Economy into Question

Posted by Anna Finger On July - 11 - 2012

2013 Hyundai ElantraAutomakers need to be very careful when advertising fuel economy. A recent lawsuit against Hyundai suggests that at least some consumers are bean counters when it comes to mileage. Recent Hyundai Elantra ads have heavily focused on the EPA estimated 40 miles per gallon fuel economy that the vehicle allegedly gets. However, these ads have been run without the mandatory disclaimer that states the numbers are measured on the highway.

Naturally, vehicles driven on real roads won’t exhibit these impressive rates. When driving an Elantra in the city, it gets somewhere around 30 mpg. While these numbers are certainly still respectable, they are misleading. A California law firm in association with the Consumer Watchdog advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against what they perceive as false advertising.

Most automakers are now focusing on the highway fuel economy claims of their vehicles. Older commercials actually focused more on overall mileage or even what consumers could expect to get in the city. One might imagine that this shift is due to a wish on the behalf of advertisers to sport higher numbers. While these numbers aren’t made up figures, they are based on ideal highway estimates.

Another problem might come from the fact that the EPA doesn’t actually use real roads for testing vehicles. Instead, they test them on a treadmill and use mathematical equations to adjust this for what they perceive as real road running. There are other independent tests that actually put vehicles out on the road, and these seldom get exactly the same results as the EPA examinations. Regardless, what drivers see on the road will still be rather different than what any test shows.

These figures can sometimes hurt the automotive industry. While one might hope that sales of the Hyundai Elantra aren’t hurt by this new threat, drivers are often offended when they see this sort of negative publicity. While the old adage goes that any publicity amounts to good publicity, this isn’t the case for people shopping for cars. They want information that they can trust, and anything else will make them reconsider when thinking about a particular brand image.


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