Did Hyundai Omit 40mpg Claim on Elantra Super Bowl ad Because of Consumer Watchdog?


It happens to every new car buyer: you look at the car’s specs and among other things; you take notice of its official fuel economy numbers. Then you may discover that in real-world conditions, the mileage you eke out of a single tank is nowhere near the quoted figure.

The discrepancy is sometimes so big that you are either driving like a maniac (which in some cases may be true), or there’s something’s fishy with the official mileage estimates. Are consumers tricked by carmakers as far as fuel consumption is concerned, as some claim?

Consumer Watchdog (CW), a non-profit organization that advocates taxpayer and consumer interests, believes so and is making a fuss about it. The organization has urged the EPA to perform tests itself and has even threatened to employ “guerilla” tactics if its demands are not satisfied.

The latest issue was about Hyundai’s Super Bowl commercial for the 2012 Elantra that appeared on YouTube.

On December 14, Consumer Watchdogs wrote a letter to Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik where it demanded that the 40 mpg claim to be removed from the commercial since it did not clarify that it was referring to highway and not combined fuel economy numbers and that real-world consumption was actually much worse.

On Tuesday, February 1, Krafcik received a new letter that was also addressed to Hyundai Motor Company President Eok Jo Kim.

The consumer group noted that, while the 40 mpg “was not pitched” in the revised Super Bowl ad, it was nevertheless placed on a sidebar on Youtube. It requested a written reassurance that the ad be removed and wanted an answer the next day, February 2.

“Consumer Watchdog has crafted its own short video about your 40 mpg claim that we intend to release should we not receive assurances the Elantra Super Bowl ad will not make mpg claims,” CW stated in its letter.

In addition, it warned the Korean carmaker that if it tried “to sneak the claim into your advertisement at the last moment”, then it would publicly challenge Krafcik to prove the 40 mpg claim by driving an Elantra to the Super Bowl.

Hyundai Motor America senior group manager Monique Kumpis replied that the Super Bowl commercials displayed on YouTube “reflect exactly what will run on Super Bowl Sunday” adding that "in no way were any of our ads influenced by any Consumer Watchdog claims, comments or statements.”





3Deuce27 said... »February 03, 2012

The Manufacturers don't determine fuel mileage, the EPA does. 

The problem with the EPA findings, are that the real world has a situation where most drivers(US) are terribly inefficient drivers.    I can almost always beat EPA posted figures, the exceptions have been a 2007 Honda Civic and most Ford products.  The Civic did finally get EPA numbers when it hit about 30,000+ miles and when running high desert, flat land.

Americans terribly driving habits, result in very high  per mile costs.  Fuel, brakes, suspension, tires, drive train wear, not to mention poor vehicle choices(SUV's/Pick-ups when you don't utilize them)) cost them a considerable percentage of their income, compared to the rest of the world.. 

  The suit against Honda was bogus, the fact that the plaintiff won the suit, just shows the technical ignorance of the jury.... and maybe they should hire a new law firm. 


EVroadster said... »February 03, 2012

Good comments for the most part, but 'Low 50's'?  Are you reading and 'Instant MPG' gauge going down hill?  I often hyper mile and It would be a stretch to get that even in a Hyundai hybrid.

Hugh Jorgan said... »February 03, 2012

Please tell me how you calculate YOUR gas consumption.

LadyFlyer said... »February 03, 2012

I use the same gas station, same pump (when at all possible) and usually just use the instant mpg gauge as a guide. 

MPG is calculated by #miles on trip odometer divided #gallons added as seen at the pump after filling.  On an all highway trip last July, the highway mpg averaged just over 50mpg, and the average city/highway number is just over 39 (EPA is 33).
I also drive a Cruze as my winter car (EPA is 26/38 and 31 combined) and I was just under 36mpg on my last tank (I'm working on getting that better)  while the Elantra is just over 39mpg.  So the Elantra and Cruze are showing similar results and they are regular cars I bought from a local dealer.  I found that the only change the cars needed was adjusting the nut behind the wheel.

Flastudbear said... »February 03, 2012

The only single way ill trust any numbers is with my calculator !   not some  lcd readout !!!

Eric Weiner said... »February 04, 2012

I say your experience is a-typical and I have trouble believing it. To be fair, I am sure that reaching 40 is possible with near 100% highway but that's just not the typical situation for most drivers. What's your average miles per hour (MPH) its shown on your tip computer?

The fact is that no one should have to take extraordinary steps to at least achieve the combined 33. Yet, there are 100's if not 1000's of Elantra drivers who cant get that MPG even with misery driving.

I do commend your don'ts and I believe most drivers already do these things.

Its clear in my mind that Hyundai has exaggerated the claim.

Also to the person who indicated that the EPA tested the car, that's not true in this case. Hyundai tested their car using the EPA guidelines and submitted the results to Hyundai. Hence the recent letters from a consumer group requesting that the EPA retest themselves.

ConceptVBS said... »February 06, 2012

Check out this test done by Popular Mechanics.

ConceptVBS said... »February 06, 2012

Check out this link done by Popular Mechanics

popularmechanics.  com/cars/news/fuel-economy/mileage-moment-of-truth-we-put-40-mpg-claims-to-the-test-6651300?click=pm_latest

ConceptVBS said... »February 06, 2012

Check out Popular Mechanics latest article on the "40MPG" test on the Focus and the Elantra.

They've actually gotten numbers that BEAT the EPA numbers.

Google "popular mechanics mileage moment of truth"

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