By on July 11, 2012

A gentleman named Louis Bird is suing Hyundai because his 2011 Elantra isn’t getting the claimed 40 mpg that Hyundai’s ads apparently tout. Bird is being supported by a group called Consumer Watchdog, and if that rings a bell, maybe it’s because TTAC has dealt with them  a few times in the past regarding Hyundai.

Before we delve into Louis Bird’s folly, let’s recap the situation for those who are just tuning in. Consumer Watchdog has been hassling Hyundai since December regarding the Elantra’s 40 MPG highway mileage claims.  Mileage tests are often conducted by the automakers who then report their findings to the government, with the threat of severe financial penalties if they lie. Independent testing done by our own Jack Baruth returned  “35-36 mpg in conditions which were far from the test lab“, with Baruth being satisfied by the results, even if they didn’t quite hit the 40 MPG mark that is possible under the carefully controlled conditions of a fuel economy test. Popular Mechanics was another publication that managed to match Hyundai’s claims.

The lawsuit appears to hinge on the fact that Hyundai apparently advertised the car as  “The 40 MPG Elantra”, without a voice-over disclosing that the 40 MPG figure was related to a highway mileage estimate, without stating that city figures would vary significantly. The complaint acknolwedges that disclaimers did appear, but they were  “neither clear nor conspicuous” since they were comprised of text being flashed at the bottom of the television ads. Bird is alleging similar tactics were used for print ads.

A chat with TTAC’s General Counsel didn’t yield a whole lot; being unfamiliar with California law, he was unable to accurately assess how successful Bird would be in getting a judgment against Hyundai. He did have some commentary on the peripheral details of the case

“Since it’s a class action Hyundai will probably want to avoid having the evidence dragged out in public through the court system, and since it’s being done on contingency the lawyers don’t want to drag it out either as the costs which they have to cover are enormous – so there’s a natural inclination on both sides to settle.”
However, unlike Honda, the Koreans are less concerned about negative publicity and may put up more of a fight. The only thing that you can say with certainty about these [class action] claims is that at the end of the day, the loser pays out a lot of $$, the plaintiffs get some token amount of damages, and the lawyers do very well.
Consumer Watchdog and the law firm representing Louis Bird have the most to gain here, even if Hyundai ends up “winning”. Louis Bird looks set to come out on the losing end, no matter what happens.

 

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72 Comments on “Louis Bird Is About To Get Swindled, And Not By Hyundai...”


  • avatar
    supersleuth

    The lawsuit is ridiculous, but it’s also the case that in comparison tests Hyundais routinely come in well behind the real-world FE of competitors with similar EPA ratings in comparison tests. They clearly have gone farther than other companies in gaming the EPA methodology.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not according to Car & Driver, Popular Mechanics and Consumers Reports (where the Elantra has bested competitors like the Focus FSE and Eco Cruze).

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        It’s not even close according to Motor Trend. http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1208_40_mpg_compact_sedan_comparison/viewall.html

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Actually bd2, the Focus SFE at 31mpg combined beats the Elantra’s 29 in Consumer Reports tests. The Elantra does edge past the regular Focus, which got 28mpg combined. The Focus beat its EPA highway mileage in all versions, too.

        I agree that the lawsuit is ridiculous. The Elantra is fuel-efficient for its class, though not exceptionally so – if he’s really suing Hyundai because they didn’t “sufficiently disclose” the fact that 40mpg is the highway figure, he may as well sue every carmaker out there.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        @SV

        To clarify, the Elantra did better than the Focus FSE in the Popular Mechanics test and the Focus in the Car & Driver test.

        The Elantra also did better than the Cruze Eco in the Car & Driver test and the Consumer Reports test.

        So results vary from publication to publication just as reviews vary from publication to publication.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never seen a Hyundai that actually lived up to its specs.

      Interior space, fuel economy and performance numbers are always lacking in some way.

      case in point: Genesis R-spec. My SRT8 could kill that thing without my Supercharger.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Your SRT-8 has more torque than the Genesis, it SHOULD beat it even if it has 3 less “gears”.

        But I’d rather see unbiased proof instead of people tooting their own horns on the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        Here’s a case in point: my Veloster is performing BETTER than advertised!

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        “case in point: Genesis R-spec. My SRT8 could kill that thing without my Supercharger.”

        — That really is a silly comparison.

        1st off, the Genesis R-Spec is NOT a special performance line like the SRT8 and doesn’t get an upgrade in power (one can get a “regular” 5.0 Genesis without the sportier suspension).

        Also, there is quite the difference in displacement – 6.4L for the SRT8 vs. 5.0L for the R-Spec.

        The R-Spec is as quick as the BMW 550i; I guess we should all bag on the 550i for not being as quick as the 300 SRT8.

        And there are Elantra owners getting as high as 40 MPG in their overall driving (not just HWY), so as they say, YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Yes, keep touting that line, but the fact is that my Veloster handily exceeds Hyundai’s own promises on the highway, with 40 mpg easily and regularly exceeded, and at times, 45 mpg is exceeded.

      So, when you say “Hyundais”, bear in mind that not all Hyundais fall under the black cloud of suspicion.

      As for City mileage, only an idiot pays any attention to that figure, for any car save an hybrid, perhaps.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        How do you get 45mpg? Slip-streaming trucks?

      • 0 avatar

        I get 10.1 mpg mixed driving and the highest I’ve ever seen my fuel economy go was 16mpg. Considering my average speed is around 85 mph I think this is ok?

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Under careful instrumented testing over at cleanmpg.com, these are the results for steady cruising on the hwy on a 2011 Elantra Limited.. A similarly equipped Cruze got the same results but at 5mph slower speeds.

        50 mph – 55.4 mpg displayed – 54.0 mpgUS actual
        55 mph – 52.3 mpg displayed – 51.0 mpgUS actual
        60 mph – 48.05 mpg displayed – 46.9 mpgUS actual
        65 mph – 45.4 mpg displayed – 44.3 mpgUS actual
        70 mph – 40.05 mpg displayed – 39.1 mpgUS actual

        http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44345

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I personally wish we could stop suits such as this. I am ok if a car gets within 2 or three mpg of its claim. Some companies under-promise and over-deliver (Mazda), Hyundai isnt one of those companies. Part of there recent success over the past five years has to do with the hype machine. That being said they are and have gotten much better with their products and I like them alot (new Azera). I routinely averaged 31 mpg hwy going from Washington NC to Charlotte when I lived in my home state of NC in my 01 Aurora and finally gave it to my mom who was in need of another car due to her own car (Buick Century) finally going out. (Just removed from True Delta). It got pretty bad in the city though about 14mpg.

    Mr Loser Bird is just a cog in the machine and will be used and you never hear from him again. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame. I hope this goes away quickly. My point being is I never once thought of suing Olds for the car getting better mileage than they stated. (false advertising).

  • avatar
    gslippy

    If Louis Bird is driving at an average of 48.3 mph – and in accordance with the EPA highway test cycle – and he’s not getting 40 mpg, then something’s wrong. Instead, I’ll bet he’s going well over 70 mph through mountainous terrain, living in Sacramento, CA.

    Here’s how the test is performed (click on the “highway” tab):
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/fe_test_schedules.shtml

    He can’t win this thing, and he shouldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Wow. Never knew EPA highways speed was a trifling 48 mph. I’m not surprised the Hyundai can do 40 at that speed.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      What mountainous terrain? Sacramento itself is completely flat. If he heads far outside of town (East to the Sierras or West to the Vacaville mountains) he’s hitting hills.

      That said, I commute through Sacramento from 600′ to sea level and back and have always exceeded the highway estimates on a half-dozen different cars. My money is on the guy driving like a jackass and getting tired of paying at the pump for it.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I can beat EPA highway numbers my 20-35%. These are personal cars, well broken, 40+ psi tire pressures, and a smooth right foot over the throttle. The V8’s are less sensitive but usually reward less of a gain over EPA where 4-cylinder turbos really excel.

      Ever wonder why fuel economy is only approximate for motorcycles where I can almost double the mot mags? I use my bike for commuting. Where most they are weekend warriors.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I can beat EPA highway numbers my 20-35%.”

        Cars tend to get better fuel economy on the internet than they do in real life, especially yours.

        .

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Norm does seem to have the best Saab 9-5 Saab ever produced. I think it may actually only have 3 cylinders. Or a permanent gale force tailwind. ;-)

        I will say, I manage to match the highway figure for my 328i in suburban driving, and exceed it by 5mpg or more on long highway trips. So it is interesting to me that some cars do seem to be very much underrated, and some overrated. Though it does make sense to me that a modern car with tall gearing, slippery aerodynamics and excellent engine management can do better at higher speeds than those used on the EPA test. As they say, your mileage may vary.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The 2.3 turbo wagon got 39 mpg on the return 100+ mile trip and 36.5 mpg with AC on. Once it’s got an ECU tune it’ll see around another 2 mpg. My 9-5 sedan with manual ECU tune will see 3-4 more mpgs.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I hate to break it to you, Norm, but nobody with a functioning brain stem believes much of anything that you have to say.

        You’re a broken record. When you aren’t ranting about Toyota going down in flames, you’re claiming that you own a SAAB that defies the laws of physics and must have been built by magic fairies. It’s hard to tell whether you’re nuts, or just clueless.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        It’s tough at the top. Everyone is tried to pick you apart, just ask Toyota.

        As with some of us that see 40+ mpg on our long commutes we don’t need the extra cost of a batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        NormSV650 reminds me of a co-worker who claimed he got 35mpg on a long highway trip in his loaded down Honda Pilot averaging 70mph. Of course his car was magic too, claiming it was because of the cylinder deactivation that his model of Pilot didn’t have.

    • 0 avatar

      My ’08 Civic, 1.8L, stick, gets around 40-41 at a little over 70 mph, even though EPA says 34 hwy.

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    What’s funny is, per the FuelEconomy.gov website it’s an ESTIMATE. Per the window sticker of the vehicle he was buying, which was presented to him before purchase, it’s an ESTIMATE. Those things give a RANGE of what a car that type will do. It’s probably not the most realistic range, but it’s a range. If his Elantra is averaging 15 MPG on the highway, then he’s got an argument. But it’s not, so he doesn’t.

    False advertising, to an extent? Maybe, but file a claim with the FTC, not sue somebody. This guy’s a moron, in more ways than one.

    From FuelEconomy.gov:

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/info.shtml

    Why does my fuel economy differ from EPA estimates?

    No test can accurately predict fuel economy for all drivers and all driving conditions. Driver behavior, driving conditions, vehicle maintenance, fuel characteristics, weather, and other factors can all affect fuel economy significantly as explained here.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    These sorts of lawsuits are frivolous and generally without merit, if as a driver you weren’t aware mileage is a variable based on driving habits you should be sent back to traffic school.

    Perhaps the best way to market in the future would be to check in with driver volunteers of newly purchased models and ask them on camera what their perceptions of mileage have been. Hyundai lately has been using real customers in their marketing, so a three month followup checkup would fit nicely in with their ‘warm and fuzzy, we pretend to give a frack’ advertising. Then of course if some people get close to or hit 40mpg and then a naysayer doesn’t they can put in the commercial’s fine print ‘Hyundai does not endorse what these people say’ etc. It wouldn’t hurt if they backed off the exact claims of 40mpg as well, just claim high thirties… better to claim less and your customers experience more… maybe get the feeling of a ‘bonus’, which would translate to better word of mouth.

    Your welcome Hyundai, post me back and I’ll tell you what to write on the check to me for my consulting services.

  • avatar
    NN

    According to the link above from gslippy, the EPA highway test never goes above 60mph. Modern highway speed is more often 70, if not 80. I would think tests run at 70 would be more reflective of what you’ll actually get in real life.

    We have a 2010 Malibu with the 4cyl, advertised 33mpg highway, I usually get 29-30 on the highway, so I was disappointed until I realized the EPA test speed was as outdated as it is. However, then I rented a 2012 Focus and got 40.5 mpg on a roadtrip driving between 70 and 80. So there is still some variance in which some cars will hit their targets at modern speeds and others won’t. It seems the Hyundai’s and new age Chevy’s don’t (Impala does, this I know).

    I welcome this suit, not because I like trolls or want to see the attorneys suck everyone dry, but because maybe it will a) help make the EPA aware that they need to update their testing standards/speeds, and b) keep the manufacturers on a tighter leash when it comes to reporting/advertising their results.

    • 0 avatar
      crackers

      “a) help make the EPA aware that they need to update their testing standards/speeds,”

      Didn’t the EPA just do this to supposedly better reflect “real world” conditions?

      Although a lot of people on this site don’t like Consumer Reports, we may have to rely on their mileage figures for a more accurate “real world” estimate.

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I had a similar experience in a rental Malibu, I would think the variance between the Focus and the Malibu would have something to do with weight and size ratios. The Malibu isn’t a very big car but its not small either, its the kinda thing traditionally GM would put the 60 degree V6 instead of a high revving 4 banger. I wonder if the standard 4-cyl Ecotec was an afterthought… whereas the Focus is a small car all around and was probably always engineered and tested to use a 4-cyl.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      If you welcome the suit, then sue the EPA. Since when is a junk lawsuit against a company going to effect change at the EPA?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually based on a no. of tests, the Elantra does a better job of hitting 40 MPG at higher speeds than the Focus; the Focus, otoh, does seem to do better in city driving.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    If Baruth got 36 running 80 MPH then surely 40 is easy at 55.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Mr. Bird is not a moron; he and his lawyer are theives. This reads just like the many frivilous ADA lawsuits that are filed on a routine basis to extort money from businesses. It may be that Mr. Bird is involved in these as well, or maybe he isn’t able to document a disability that would allow him a spot on that gravy train. So, he and his lawyer have developed a new extortion methodology. Not only does Mr. Bird need to be slapped down hard for this frivolous lawsuit, the “justice” system needs to make him and his lawyer pay for wasting the time of the court and the expenses incurred by Hyundai plus some punitive damages. Until we get honest judges who are willing to take action against the lawyers involved in this theft by extortion, we will continue to have interesting stories like Mr. Bird’s lawsuit. Of course, most of these judges were at one time lawyers themselves and wouldn’t even think of punishing any of their brothers/children still practicing as lawyers, just so long as that lawyer does not insult them directly.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      +1, Lumbergh. My theory is that our man Bird and his team are actually filing this frivolous case to help build public support for tort reform. Then again, isn’t most of the California economy (outside the Valley) based on random redistribution of wealth resulting from suits like this?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Is there ANY personal accountability left in the United States today. The EPA MPG stickers have always been a best guess, best driving situations, drive with a claymore under the gas pedal affair.

    Live in Denver at altitude on 85 octane E10 pump gas, WHAT I’m not getting EPA sticker???

    Drive in Seattle and slog through one of the worst commutes in the nation? WHAT I’m not getting EPA sticker???

    Drive around with a trunk full of crap with the AC on 24/7 even when you don’t need it? WHAT I’m not getting EPA sticker?

    Last time you checked air pressure in your tires yourself Clinton was in the White House (and I don’t mean Hillary as SoSUS)? WHAT I’m not getting EPA sticker?

    Ya, you’re not getting the MPG the sticker stated. Wha! I’m so sick of stupidity like this.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The deleterious effect of E10 is a good point. It’s well-known that ethanol reduces mpg, with E85 being the worst. “Pure” gasoline would certainly be better, and even appropriate octane ratings could be debated.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Exactly. I had been wondering why my little Mazda P5 didn’t get anything close to what I figured it’d get, but in reality, it is pretty close, the current EPA for the Mazda – and another previous car I had, a 1988 Honda Accord, both with a 2.0L FI motor, the Honda had 120hp, but mated to 5spd manual, the Mazda has 130 and is mated to a 4spd sport stick with lock up torque converter. The EPA mileage is EXACTLY the same for both cars, 22-28 with the current numbering system, 24-32 by the older number and that’s what I thought my Honda got, it may still be a tad better than the Mazda so based on that, I think my little 83 Civic with all of 67hp out of a 1500cc 4 pot motor and 5spd manual got 35-38hwy at best.

        Really, we need to look at the combined averages as that’s how most of us drive, some city and highway combined will usually give you somewhere in the middle of the city and highway mileage.

        And E10 definitely isn’t helping matters. If I could run straight gas in my Mazda, I bet it’d be closer to 30 or a bit more highway but not more than 31-32mpg though at 65.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Mr Bird is being functionally illiterate by NOT reading the information available to him. Now he’s filing a lawsuit based on his ignorance?

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    This guy is a thorn. If you go read the AW article, his statement makes him sound like an ignorant fool. I wonder if he ever complained to Hyundai FIRST, before making such a big deal about this. I wonder, has ever a peep been uttered by full size truck owners getting just 2mpg less than advertised? Surely their $ loss would be greater than his.

    Also read the end of the article: “Car companies are required to disclose certain information when mileage estimates are provided in their advertisements and Hyundai ignored the rules,” said William Anderson, attorney for Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP. “Without this required information, consumers cannot make accurate comparisons when shopping for vehicles.”

    Did this guy really just up and buy a car based on one ad? Ever heard of a Monroney sticker? Surely this tool looked at one on the test drive before plunking down $$$ on a brand new car.

  • avatar
    geeman77

    In Canada, you can buy a Mazda3 Sky-whatever, that the dealer advertises as getting 58 mpg…! Except, as a Canadian, I have never, ever purchased a gallon (imperial, not US) of gas (we buy in liters…), nor do I think in MPG, as our speed/distance is measured in kilometers. Stupid advertising, but apparently someone thinks that 58 mpg sounds way better than the metric equivalent 5 or so l/100km.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure who actually drives these cars to slap that EPA sticker on them, but I suggest the Federal Government LET ME DO IT. If I can achieve 40Mpg in a car, then it must really get 40 mpg or better cause I run cars so hard it’s a miracle they don’t burst into flames.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      And the answer is…

      no one. Most EPA ratings are done by the manufacturers on the honor system, with the large fines being the only practical method of compliance. Every once in a blue moon, somebody at the EPA will pick a car at random, strap it down to a dyno, and simulate the test loop speeds. They monitor the exhaust emissions, and plug the results into some arcane formula to check the mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Yosemity Sam – is that you buddy?

  • avatar
    mitchw

    1. Isn’t Hyundai recognizing a psychological value to the number 40 when they try so hard to hit it?

    2. Perhaps Mr. Bird’s gas station operator is a swindler, not selling him a gallon of gas for a gallon of cash?

    3. Is he ignoring a malfunction in his car?

    4. How come we don’t hear about this kind of lawsuit coming out of Brooklyn?

  • avatar
    pdog

    A few thoughts:

    1. Not sure about the CA law issues, but it looks like this issue is also governed by federal EPA regs (see 16 CFR 259). If you disclose just the highway mpg, you have to say that is the “estimated highway mpg,” and you have to do it in the same format (e.g. audio, if you state the 40 mpgs in audio in your ad) – you can’t just run fine print at the bottom of the screen. Not that hard to figure out, and if Hyundai screwed this up, they should hire better legal counsel.

    2. Not everyone in this country is as smart or as informed about cars as the people on this website. That’s why the EPA regs exist, to make sure that people understand that those figures are estimated.

    3. Named plaintiffs frequently can get more compensation than normal class members, so Bird may do alright. And in general, the way our system is set up with a somewhat toothless EPA that is in many cases essentially a revolving door for people who represented industry, consumer lawsuits like these are an important mechanism. And this is coming from someone who has spent a lot of time representing heavy industry in environmental compliance stuff.

    4. What is your recourse if you get a car that doesn’t achieve the mileage, and is far below the average for that model? It must be possible that you can get a fuel economy lemon vs. other people.

    For the record, I’ve never found it that hard to exceed the highway EPA estimate for my car (it’s rated 20/28/23 city/highway/combined under the new rules, 23/30/26 under the old). I get 32-33 mixed, 35-50 on highway trips keeping it around 70.

    It’s not that hard. Keep RPMs down when not accelerating. Look/scan far down the road so you can coast more and minimize brake use. Slow down when lights are red and give them a chance to turn green. Above all, don’t go 85 during the morning rush hour when you know there is going to be stopped traffic in the next mile anyway. It’s stupid. You’ll end up 3 car lengths ahead when you hit the traffic jam.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Does the recent Honda lawsuit ring any bells? Trying to win lawsuits such as this are ridiculous. The numbers posted on the cars are only estimates. Get real.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    This might just me being paranoid, but I always assumed the class representative in these tiny lawsuits got some $$ under the table or something like that. Otherwise it doesn’t make a bunch of sense for anyone to do it when they might get a check for $50 on the outside.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      Yes they do and not under the table either. It’s openly disclosed. I predict a class action settlement along these lines:

      Mr. Bird: $100,000
      All other class members: a coupon for $50 off their next Hyundai purchase
      The lawyers $7.6 million, calculated as 1/3 of the assumed value assuming every one of the $50 coupons printed, is actually used.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    if you take a look at the owner reported gas mileage for the Elantra, on websites like Fuelly.com, or the EPA’s own fueleconomy.gov, you’ll see that they get worse gas mileage out in the real world than the supposed EPA combined figure of 33mpg. For example- on fueleconomy.gov, the 2011 Elantra is averaging 30.2mpg (with 27 owners reporting), and the 2012 Elantra is showing 29.2mpg (39 owners reporting). By way of comparison, the 2012 Civic is rated at 32mpg combined. Owners are reporting 33.6mpg on average (27 owners reporting).

    Hyundai is gaming the test regime one way or the other. I hope Mr Bird wins his lawsuit. But above all the EPA really needs to start policing these car makers.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      W/ a few exceptions, most models don’t get the EPA figures overall in real driving conditions (which very from person to person, not to mention the quality of fuel w/ E15).

      For fuelly, Elantra owners have avg’d 30.6, 29.9 and 30.9 MPG for the 2001MY-2013MY Elantra which is within the parameters of the EPA rating.

      And owners MPG has ranged from 24 to 40 MPG depending on varying driving conditions, so evidently, there are owners who get the EPA combined rating or even a good bit higher.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        My 2009 Fit base manual consistently does 36-37 (at around 70 – 75 mph) on my 120 mile RT highway commute, vs. the EPA’s highway number of 33. And that’s with Goodyear Tripletreds instead of the OEM low rolling resistance tire.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Actually if you look at the recent models – most of them either match or exceed their EPA combined ratings. Poke around on the EPA website and focus on the cars that have a sizeable sample size, and you’ll see that Hyundai is really pushing it.

      • 0 avatar
        sfay3

        As mentioned above, fuel economy can be terrific in mixed internet driving.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        37.8 on my fillup this morning. Neither my odometer nor the fuel pump at which I gassed up live on the Internet, wise guy. But yes, this is almost 100% highway driving with little traffic congestion, obviously I wouldn’t do that well otherwise. Still, it’s substantially better than the EPA highway number, which is unaccountably low for the Fit. Guess since Honda isn’t interested in selling that many in the US due to the exchange rate, they weren’t motivated to do any special EPA tweaking.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If I have learned anything on the internet, it’s that the average human seems to be incapable of calculating fuel economy.

      I’m going to guess that part of it may be a matter of selection bias:

      – The optimists will look at a real time MPG gauge during points during their drive and assume that it’s a reflection of their average fuel economy. Such people don’t realize that a car getting an average 30 mpg will have plenty of 40 mpg moments in the course of achieving 30 mpg during the total drive time.

      – The pessimists will fail to realize that what they believe to be “highway driving” more closely resembles an urban cycle and/or has speeds that are well above those used for the EPA highway rating.

      I wouldn’t believe much of anything that you read about MPG on an internet forum. You simply can’t trust most people to accurately calculate it or to make appropriate allowances for variations in driving conditions, driving styles, etc. that could impact the result. At the very least, the EPA cycles are consistent.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Actually both Fuelly and fueleconomy.gov prompts you to enter the miles driven and the gallons used, and they will do the calculations for you. They don’t go by what the dash display tells you. The good thing about these websites is that they gather a large amount of datapoints from different drivers all over the country. Provided the sample size is reasonably large, you are getting a pretty good average. Whereas a car magazine test is limited to a sample size of one driven just enough miles to get one fill-up.

        The EPA test regime may be consistent- but it relies on the car makers to self report.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Also, keep in mind that the speed that the EPA is using may be more reflective of hypermilers than the normal run of the mill drivers.

    A real test, to me is the average driver who does not try to race to the next light, nor tries to hypermiile their car for every last drop and if the car can sustain the claims or very close at those kinds of conditions then yes, it CAN achieve the claimed miles.

    The trick to me is ensuring you don’t have to work hard to purposefully achieve the claimed mileage. So under normal driving conditions, the car should come very close or get that exact mileage without working at it is a true representative mileage for that model, again, it should be clearly spelled out that this is an estimate, not actual mileage, but you should be able to achieve this without too much work.

    That said, I think we need to work on the AVERAGE mileage, rather than focusing on the highway mileage as so many of us drive roughly half the time in city traffic and half the time in highway traffic – and much of that slow rush hour traffic, like I do most days coming home. I average around 60mph going into work though – and I drive I-90 to and from work 5 days a week.

  • avatar
    mcs

    My guess is that the only evidence that a judge would allow would be tests duplicating the EPA tests. Everything else would get tossed.

    I think the lack of disclaimer claim will get tossed as well. There was a big sticker on the cars window that would have cleared up any confusion before he drove it off the lot.

    As part of the discovery process, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get the hard disks from his home and work computers (his employer would love that one) and check the browsing history to see if he accessed sites like fueleconomy.gov or other site that had more complete data.

    If you don’t find anything, that’s ok because you’ve made their lives miserable, cranked up their stress level, and have run up their costs – not to mention dragging the plaintiffs employer and their counsel into the whole mess. Maybe, just maybe, they’d drop the claim to avoid the discovery hell they’d be put through.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      As you imply, it’s possible that Hyundai cheated on the tests in some way. In that case, let the lawsuit proceed with evidence that the cars can’t match the stated mileage claims. That should be a pretty simple court case that could be settled quickly once the tests are made.

      “lack of disclaimer claim will get tossed as well” — However, it’s also possible that advertising violated laws or that dealers broke the law. Since these are both areas governed by specific laws, I could see it as a valid legal angle. TV or print advertising should be pretty straightforward, but what a dealer did or didn’t so would be harder to prove (and an action against the dealer, not Hyundai).

      I have another theory: Maybe this lawsuit is a precursor to pressuring the EPA to change the testing procedures (again). The Motortrend article cited above seems to imply that the Hyundai varies more than other cars due to driving style. My guess is that Hyundai did a better job optimizing for the EPA tests and so may suffer worse when the driver’s real-world behavior doesn’t mimic the test.

      As for making discovery process hell, this is a class-action lawsuit, so I don’t think that the browsing history of a single person is important to the case. It’s really a matter of if the entire class of people where systematically deceived.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    One comment on the impending civil cases. Don’t expect much in compensation if the cases are tried in Center County. I served on a jury in a civil case in PA once. The jurors were sympathetic to the plantiff up to the point of awarding any money which they percieved would come indirectly from them theough higher taxes, insurance costs, etc.
    I would propose that in Center county, 99% of the juries are somehow connected to the University and will not look kindly at any large awards to the victims as these awards might cost them or their relatives jobs at the university.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Bird is suing because of what he heard on a TV ad? Since you can’t buy a car in the US over the phone or internet, the only purpose the TV ad serves is to get you into the dealer, where you have ample opportunity to read all the details. If a TV ad said the seats were comfortable, could you sue a year later because you found they gave you a backache on long drives?

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      “you can’t buy a car in the US over the phone or internet”

      That’s precisely what I did! However, the dealer sent the Monroney label along with the documents to sign and fax back.


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