Must Be The Dog In Me: Hyundai Won't Claim 40MPG At The Super Bowl
About a month and a half ago, a group calling itself “Consumer Watchdog” targeted Hyundai in what we indicated could be a shakedown operation. Their claim: Hyundai is gaming the EPA tests. Or faking them. I’m not sure, really. To get to the bottom of it, I set up a [s]thinly veiled excuse to drive to another state and seduce a gorgeous single mother[/s] real-world test of the Elantra’s capabilities. I was satisfied by the results, but the folks at Consumer Watchdog, by contrast, were just getting started…
In a press release put out this morning, “Consumer Watchdog” announces that Hyundai will remove any claim of “40MPG” from their Super Bowl Ad. According to the release,
Consumer Watchdog’s letter sent Wednesday asked for a response from Hyundai by noon PDT Thursday, offering to stop the promotion of the guerilla video that disputes the Elantra’s MPG claims and counts up the multi-million dollar cost to drivers. The letter also challenged Hyundai’s U.S. CEO to fill up the tank of Elantra and either match the company’s mileage claims or leave himself stranded on the road to the Super Bowl.
A “guerilla video” countering Hyundai’s claims? Yes, apparently such a thing exists. Consumer Watchdog went through the trouble of creating a “counter-ad”.
Making TV-quality advertisements, even if they are “guerilla counter-videos”, costs serious money. As any journalist who doesn’t spend the majority of his time driving complimentary Cadillac CTS-V wagons knows, following the money is a good way to get to the truth of the matter. How was the video funded? Was it a grassroots effort from Consumer Watchdog’s contributors? A calculated investment from the pocketbook of a Consumer Watchdog bigwig, based on the idea that Hyundai would pay them not to run it? Was it… (dramatic pause) the UAW? Clearly, some sort of watchdog organization is required here, to keep an eye on other consumer watchdog organizations. Who will watch that organization? There’s something in Latin to that effect. I think it’s Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo. No, wait: if this really is a shakedown, a different Latin phrase applies: Pecunia non olet.
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This sort of sums it up: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/fuel-economy/mileage-moment-of-truth-we-put-40-mpg-claims-to-the-test-6651300 I got an easy 41.6 in mixed surface street/tollroad/highway driving on the way to my (Hyundai) office this morning.
We're going to see the wild swings like we did 30 years ago as motors shrank and horsepower dropped. It won't be as ugly this time because much has changed with motor design, fuel management systems, electronics and number of gears in transmissions, but as a general rule people leaving their 6 and 8 cylinder 300 hp monsters are going to be disappointed by the mileage they get with their new buggies, unless they make serious adjustments to the bad habits they developed while gas was $3.50 a gallon. Hyundai has made fuel mileage central to their marketing strategy, now that their prices are no longer perceived as being 'inexpensive.' If you are going to claim to get amazing gas mileage and trumpet it from the hilltops, you'd better make sure your marketing agency can back it up. Or, at least have a Plan B in order when the public finds out. Just ask Toyota how it worked for them when the public (via the media) finally woke up and realized that they were just another car company and that they never really did walk on water or dispense merlot.