Misleading Hyundai Elantra ads claiming 40 mpg lands company in court

Hyundai has been sued by Consumer Watchdog and law firm Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP for false advertising. Hyundai Elantra sedan ads went on air last year. These ads stated that the car gives a mileage of 40 mpg, which is not the case.Thousands of people have fallen for this and have either bought or leased a brand new Elantra sedan. Hyundai launched Elantra sedan with advertisements that stated, “the 40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra”. Many people took this as a fact and bought Elantra sedan in order to save money on fuel.

According to the release from Consumer Watchdog, Hyundai mislead people into buying their product. They did not reveal in a proper fashion that the 40 mpg mileage was only valid on highways as they should have given equal emphasis on mentioning that the car returns a mileage of 29 mpg in city driving, only when driven at a speed of 33 mph.

Louis Bird, one of the many Elantra owners who are now repenting, said, “I feel like Hyundai took advantage of me. Hyundai’s advertisements about the ’40 MPG’ gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me. I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn’t seen Hyundai’s ads boasting about gas mileage.”

Consumer Watchdog filed the lawsuit in Sacremento, California on the 3rd July.

News Release

Hyundai Sued by Consumer Watchdog for Misleading ’40 MPG’ Elantra Ads

SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Hyundai’s Gas Mileage Claims in 2011 and 2012 Elantra Advertising Campaign Misled California Drivers

Hyundai Motor America misled consumers about the gas mileage of the 2011 and 2012 Elantra through a broad-based media advertising campaign designed to capitalize on public concern over escalating gas prices, according to a lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog and Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP.

The lawsuit alleges that Hyundai touted “The 40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra” in high-impact television, Internet, and print advertisements without government-required disclosures that those mileage estimates were for highway driving only and that city driving mileage estimates were much lower. The omitted disclosures would have informed consumers that the car does not attain 40 MPG under most driving conditions. The illegal advertisements caused tens of thousands of California drivers to purchase or lease 2011 and 2012 Elantras and consequently incur unexpected fuel costs.

Download the lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/birdcomplaint.pdf

“I feel like Hyundai took advantage of me. Hyundai’s advertisements about the ’40 MPG’ gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me,” said Louis Bird of Sacramento, California, a 2011 Elantra owner who is representing other consumers in the class-action lawsuit and meticulously documents his mileage. “I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn’t seen Hyundai’s ads boasting about gas mileage.”

The lawsuit seeks to stop Hyundai from illegally using gas mileage numbers in its advertising of the Elantra without government-mandated disclosures and asks for damages on behalf of California residents who purchased or leased 2011 and 2012 Elantras.

“Hyundai used the ’40 MPG’ figure in a deceptive manner in order to differentiate the Elantra from similar vehicles, an especially egregious tactic during a time when consumers are looking for relief from continually rising gasoline prices,” said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog.

“Car companies are required to disclose certain information when mileage estimates are provided in their advertisements and Hyundai ignored the rules,” said William Anderson, attorney for Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP. “Without this required information, consumers cannot make accurate comparisons when shopping for vehicles.”

Consumer Watchdog is a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, CA. Find us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org

Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, a firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Bethesda, Md. and Alexandria, Va., specializes in the representation of plaintiffs in consumer, antitrust, civil rights and securities class actions and is active in major litigations pending in federal and state courts throughout the United States. For more information, go to: http://cuneolaw.com

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

————————————

STATEMENT BY HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

IN RESPONSE TO CLRA LITIGATION BY

CONSUMER WATCHDOG AND CUNEO GILBERT & LADUCA, LLP

Hyundai Motor America (“Hyundai”) believes this case has no merit, as our advertising is accurate and in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In fact, we’ve reviewed our ads and think Consumer Watchdog and their client are dead wrong.

Importantly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently confirmed our advertised fuel economy for the Hyundai Elantra of 29 miles-per-gallon (mpg) city, 40 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. The EPA results, generated from testing conducted on January 25, 2012 at the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are identical to the testing data Hyundai originally submitted to the agency. We are gratified with the EPA results, and are committed to continuing to reduce the fuel consumption of our vehicles in order to provide greater value and efficiency for our customers.

On the heels of the EPA testing, Popular Mechanics on February 3 released the results of its own testing of the Hyundai Elantra and reported obtaining significantly better fuel economy than advertised. “Cruising along at 55 mpg on the highway, our cars easily cleared 40 mpg and, astonishingly, approached 50.” The publication stated that “40 mpg [for the Hyundai Elantra] is quite a realistic figure.” Car and Driver and Consumer Reports recently have achieved similar highway results – 41 mpg and 39 mpg respectively.

The EPA deemed Hyundai the most fuel efficient automaker in the U.S. for the model year 2010, the most recent year officially tracked by the agency. Hyundai is currently the only manufacturer with four models achieving 40 mpg EPA ratings on the highway, including the Elantra, the 2012 North American Car of the Year. Last year, Hyundai sold more 40 mpg highway vehicles than Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford and Chevrolet combined. Through May of 2012, our new car fleet averaged more than 37 mpg, about 50 percent higher than the U.S. average.
Background:

In recent years, the EPA has revised its test methods to bring the agency’s fuel economy estimates closer to consumers’ “real-world” results by including factors such as high speed/rapid acceleration driving, the use of air conditioning, cold temperature operation, road grade, wind, tire pressure, load and the effects of different fuel properties. Beyond its consumer usage, EPA fuel economy data is used by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Internal Revenue Service.