Act surprised: Customers in the US less willing to buy cars from Hyundai, Kia

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 29, 2012

Since Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. admitted that they exaggerated the fuel economy rating of several models, the willingness of U.S. consumers to buy from them have weakened, according to Edmunds.com showed. In early November, the South Korean companies said that this issue covers about a million vehicles that were sold recently in the U.S. and Canada, affecting the image of two automakers that had put its superior mileage at the center of their marketing campaigns.

As a result, their share prices have dropped sharply. Edmunds.com, an auto consultant and consumer Web site, said that the "purchase intent" for Hyundai's top-selling Elantra compact dropped from 6.7% on Oct. 28 to 6.3% as of Nov. 18.

The Elantra was listed as a "40-mile-per-gallon" car, one of four models that were labelled with the wrong rating. The purchase intent for the other three models (Hyundai's Veloster and Accent and Kia's Rio) also declined. The purchase intent for the Kia Soul fell the most, from 9.2% to 7.3%. That’s because it was the most exaggerated; it was overstated by 6 miles per gallon on highways.

When asked by Reuters, Bill Visnic, a senior editor at Edmunds.com, said that in the U.S., the mistake was particularly embarrassing since Hyundai had used its of 40-miles-per-gallon vehicles as “a talking point.” He explained that "purchase intent" is greatly correlated with buying a model within the next quarter. Hyundai apologized on Nov. 2 and pledged that it will compensate owners for the extra fuel costs but Visnic said the cost may go up, considering the lawsuits due to the false mileage claims.

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