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.
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.”