Hyundai Motor Co. is facing a lawsuit for supposedly misleading consumers and claiming that the 2011 and 2012 Elantra model is more fuel efficient than it really is. Public interest group Consumer Watchdog sued Hyundai for the claims it made in its TV ads about “the 40 mile per gallon Elantra.” The group said that this figure refers to just the highway mileage and not the city or combined highway/city mileage. It asserted that Hyundai had displayed the estimated city mileage at 29 miles per gallon but it in “tiny, faint text” and it was shown very briefly so viewers won’t be able to see it if they don’t freeze their screens. The complaint also stated that there was no information about the model’s fuel efficiency in magazine ads or they would be unreadable.
Louis Bird, the plaintiff, a resident of Sacramento, Calif., said that Hyundai’s ads had convinced him to buy his 2011 Elantra. And now, he is paying more than he had expected to refuel. He is hoping that this lawsuit would be granted class-action status. He filed unspecified damages for supposed violations of California consumer protection and fraud laws. He filed the complaint in a California state court in Sacramento on July 3.
In a statement, Hyundai North America cited government tests and three popular magazines that suggest that the fuel economy rating that they advertised is realistic. Hyundai didn’t talk about claims in the complaint about making fuller disclosures in its ads. Last May 9, a state judge in Los Angeles handed down a ruling that favored Honda Motor Co. The court reversed a $9,867 award to a Civic hybrid owner who blamed Honda for fraudulently overstating its fuel economy figure in its ads. The five-seat Elantra is famous for its sleek styling. From January to June, 97,769 Elantras were sold, making it the No. 19 top-selling vehicle in the U.S.