Filed under: MPG, Hyundai, Kia, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, At Witz End
Automotive journalists have been hearing a consistent message from Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia: their attributes top the competition. Over the last few years, they have claimed superiority for most of their products in nearly every measure that matters, from power and torque to interior and cargo capacity to, most importantly, fuel economy.
When Hyundai introduced its new compact Elantra a couple years ago, execs poked fun at rivals for using asterisks to designate that their 40-mpg compacts – vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze ECO, Ford Focus SFE, Dodge Dart Aero and Honda Civic HF – were special high-efficiency models. The Elantra and friends, they boasted, needed no such disclaimer because every model was EPA rated at 40 mpg highway. Yet they also claimed better power, torque and performance.
As a recovering engineer, I have wondered how that could be possible. How can nearly every Korean car and crossover boast better power, torque and fuel efficiency than every other in its segment? Could Korean engineers be that much smarter than everyone else? They certainly are smart, and hard working. But so are Japanese, Germans and Americans.
When I’ve questioned such “better at everything” claims at Hyundai and Kia new-product introductions, I’ve received little response beyond smiles and smugly shrugged shoulders. But US auto engineers – who routinely test, analyze and benchmark competitive products – have told me (off the record) that, in their own testing of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, they’ve been unable to achieve the Koreans’ advertised numbers.
Wouldn’t it be embarrassing and image damaging for them to get caught cheating?
Could it be, I wondered, that Hyundai and Kia have been fudging their fuel-economy numbers, especially those very important 40-mpg EPA highway claims? Doesn’t our all-powerful EPA audit and check automakers’ claims to keep them honest? Wouldn’t it be embarrassing and image damaging for them to get caught cheating? Yes, sort of and yes.
But how many Americans recall that these same Korean companies were caught a decade ago inflating their power and performance claims? Very few apparently remember, or care, since both have enjoyed record-setting US sales since then. But cheating on EPA fuel economy ratings? How could they do that, and how have they gotten away with it?
Continue reading Fuel economy follies: Cheatin’ or mistaken?
Fuel economy follies: Cheatin’ or mistaken? originally appeared on AutoblogGreen on Thu, 03 Jan 2013 11:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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