Stickers to be peeled

The Autoextremist on the Hyundai/Kia “40-mpg” controversy:

It was clear that Hyundai/Kia’s successful journey would continue and that it would be a key industry player for years to come.

But I also cautioned repeatedly that the upward trajectory of the Hyundai/Kia conglomerate would not continue as a rocket launch majestically arching into the cobalt sky, that they would make mistakes. It was inevitable and it’s just the way this business goes when human nature clashes with an arrogant bureaucracy and aggressive corporate goals.

And now that the EPA has forced Hyundai/Kia to reduce inflated mileage claims on 900,000 vehicles sold in the 2011-13 model years, we’re going to find out if the upward trajectory will be leveled off a bit, or if it will only be a slight vibration en route.

What I’m hoping happens here is that the car-buying public starts to get properly cynical about the EPA’s fuel-economy numbers, which are useful only for comparisons, not for budgeting your fuel costs. You’ll note that the EPA isn’t slapping them down because an Elantra (or whatever) won’t ever get 40 mpg on the highway; the slapdown comes because the EPA couldn’t duplicate the 40-mpg claim by Hyundai in its own lab.

And those numbers have nothing to do with the numbers used to calculate Corporate Average Fuel Economy, exactly the sort of convoluted scheme you’d expect from a government that wants to “encourage” the purchase of less-thirsty vehicles but doesn’t dare do it in an obvious way — say, by raising the gas tax.


  1. Baby M »

    8 November 2012 · 12:56 pm

    Everyone seems to forget the “your mileage may vary” disclaimer. It can and does vary from what the EPA says. My wife’s Mazda 5 (with slushbox) is rated at 24 MPG highway, but we’ve cracked 30 MPG on a trip between northeast Ohio and northern Virginia on the long grades of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. My 2008 GTI (with a proper stick shift as God intended) is alleged to get 24 MPG combined and 29 highway–my combined mileage is consistently around 29-30, and I can get 33 on a long freeway trip, and that’s driving it as it was meant to be driven.

  2. CGHill »

    8 November 2012 · 1:26 pm

    I have always suspected that some cars were designed “to the test” — that they were tweaked to get good EPA numbers, at the expense of everything else. My last two cars evidently were not. (Gwendolyn’s sticker says 20/28, EPA 2008 revision says 17/25; in practice, I get about 21/29.)

RSS feed for comments on this post