Hyundai sued over claims about car’s fuel economy

Customers say Elantra doesn’t live up to advertised gas mileage

With gas prices inching toward $4 a gallon around the country, American drivers aren’t shy about voicing their concerns over a vehicle’s fuel economy—as demonstrated in yet another lawsuit against an automaker.

This time the beef is with Hyundai Motor Co. over claims the company made in ads about the gas mileage of its 2011 and 2012 Elantra vehicles. The public interest group Consumer Watchdog filed the suit on behalf of consumers claiming TV ads for Hyundai’s Elantra model were misleading. The ad says the car gets 40 miles to the gallon, however, Consumer Watchdog says in its suit that number only applies to highway miles—not city or combined highway-city miles.

The complaint says the Elantra commercial discloses in “tiny, faint text” that the estimated city mileage on the Elantra was only 29 miles per gallon, but a viewer would have to freeze the screen to read it. The suit also says disclosures in the magazines ads were either too hard to read or missing all together.

The primary plaintiff on the case, Louis Bird, says he never would have purchased his 2011 Elantra if he were fully informed about the car’s fuel economy.

"I feel like Hyundai took advantage of me," Bird told The Sacramento Bee. "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."

The lawsuit, filed in a California state court in Sacramento, seeks class action status.

Of course, this isn’t the first case of its kind. Last year, Honda Civic owner Heather Peters sued the Japanese automaker over similar misleading fuel mileage claims. Although a small claims court initially ruled in her favor, in May, that ruling was overturned.

Read more about the Hyndai suit on Thomson Reuters.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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