Some might have expected a small riot after news surfaced that Hyundai inflated its mpg claims on more than 1 million recently sold cars, but the media brouhaha was worse than any other backlash — so far.
That might change very soon. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee isn’t satisfied and wants to know how Hyundai and Kia will deal with customers whose vehicles were bought under false pretenses. He sent a letter to Hyundai Motors America CEO John Krafcik which warned that the brands could face congressional hearings over the scandal. Representatives from Hyundai and Kia both declined to comment on the letter.
“I will monitor the results of the EPA’s ongoing investigation to better understand how this error occurred, how Hyundai and Kia may have used inflated fuel economy numbers to attract consumers, and how federal enforcement agencies can better deter similar violations in the future,” he said.
Currently, the automakers are offering customers debit cards loaded with an amount meant to compensate for the false mileage claims plus a 15 percent bonus.
“We’ve got eight regions in the country where we check the average fuel price. We look at how many miles you’ve driven and what the difference in your specific car what the fuel economy label was and what it’s been adjusted to,” said Hyundai public relations senior manager Jim Trainor. “Then you get 15 percent on top of that.” The offer is also good for the life of the vehicle.
Moody’s Investor Service predicted that the compensation could cost the company $100 million annually. Still, the company is remaining profitable and if recent sales reports are any indication, both Korean brands will be able to weather the storm with relative ease.