A few years ago, my wife bought a sporty little Hyundai Elantra to replace her worn and torn mini-van. The styling and features played dominant roles in her decision, but the 40MPG possibilities touted by the company also factored in since she commutes more than 50 miles each day. She’s loved her little black “4-door sports car” since that first day: runs great and the dealership service has been terrific. Plus, she’s averaging +/- 34MPG on her largely in-town commute and has gotten better than 40MPG several times on highway trips.
So I was surprised when she received a letter from the Hyundai folks admitting to the fuel economy label on the car being misstated due to errors in their test procedures. Volkswagen would later famously encounter a similar situation, though theirs was apparently more diabolical. In our case, turns out the fuel economy estimates were overstated by one or two miles per gallon.
“We at Hyundai pride ourselves on standing behind our customers, and we did not deliver on that promise. I sincerely apologize. Our first priority is to make this right for you.”
My wife didn’t buy the car for the extra one or two miles per gallon and she’d been very happy with the mileage she did experience. We’re happy to take Hyundai’s resolution (reimbursement for the gas difference plus 15 percent for as long as she owns the vehicle which, in her case, comes to about $50 per year). But if they hadn’t taken the high road and proactively apologized, frankly, she would likely never have noticed or complained.
Now, I don’t know the full story of why Hyundai is doing this. Did the feds make them – or would they have (yes!)? Do they fear lawsuits? Public scorn a la Volkswagen? I do know Hyundai has worked exceptionally hard over the years to build their brand on a foundation of quality, innovation, value, and trust. The actions they have taken to proactively address the MPG misstatement are in complete alignment with that identity and, in my mind, further validates the image I’d formed of them over the years.
Well done for taking the high road, Hyundai.