By on December 17, 2012

Could one of the Detroit auto makers blown the whistle on Hyundai and Kia’s mileage figures? Automotive News seems to think so.

According to AN, Margo Oge, a retired EPA official, said it was

 a “credible” senior vice president from a domestic automaker called her in 2010 to accuse the Korean brands of “cheating” to get inflated mpg numbers. Based on the tip, Oge launched an audit that led Hyundai and Kia to admit they made bogus fuel-economy claims.

GM and Chrysler issued unequivocal denials over whether they were the guilty party. Ford’s answer didn’t pass AN‘s smell test. Ford stated that

“We cannot comment on any specific discussions, but Ford routinely speaks with policymakers about a wide variety of issues affecting our industry,” a company spokesman wrote in an e-mail. “We have been — and remain — an advocate of driving real fuel economy gains because it is in the best interest of our customers.”

Two issues here

1) We put forward a rather veiled suggestion that this whole thing was somewhat fishy in light of the circumstances surrounding previous questions about the Ford Fusion Hybrid’s fuel economy claims. Backroom chats with other industry types yileded more explicit suggestions that despite Hyundai/Kia’s wrongdoing, this whole thing was a witch hunt.

2) If Ford really was behind this, it’s hardly an opportune time for them to be pontificating about fuel economy claims.

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40 Comments on “Detroit Three Dimed Out Hyundai/Kia Over MPG: Automotive News...”

  • avatar

    It was GM.

  • avatar

    Remeber when a pay phone call cost $0.10? Actually, remember when a pay phone was a useful device?

  • avatar

    Hyundai was cheating, and they built a marketing campaign around their cheating to defraud the ignorant hoards. Whoever dimed them out isn’t guilty of anything. This isn’t Compton, and automakers aren’t drug dealers. If it was Ford that made the tip, then that’s another issue in light of their own fictitious EPA reporting. There’s nothing wrong with anyone that plays by the absurd rules of the bureaucracy and doesn’t like someone else benefiting from cheating reporting Hyundai or Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Agreed 100%

      I haven’t been keeping up. Has Ford officially been found guilty of mis-reporting their EPA MPG numbers? If so, then it’s definitely a case of people in glass houses if they’re the ones who blew the whistle on H/K.

      • 0 avatar

        No they have not, the EPA just launched their investigation.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Ah the drama. This is much better than anything on TV nowadays.

      • 0 avatar

        I find it interesting the the EPA announced an investigation into Ford’s numbers. I don’t ever recall the EPA actually announcing the same for Kia/Hyundai, did they. It seemed like that announcement just appeared a few months after all the accusations started flying.

        Maybe I just plain missed the initial EPA announcement for Kia/Hyundai, but if there wasn’t one, I wonder why protocol has changed?

      • 0 avatar

        The EPA announced they were investigating the CR numbers, not the Ford numbers.. Ford recently stood up by their results and will be cleared, I’m sure. Still the publicity is not good, the C-Max is a car that has no slack in its MPG numbers, you will not likely reach it or exceed it unless you are an expert hypermiler.. unlike most modern cars today.. is that gaming?, I dont think so

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not cheating, if everyone is doing it and there is the expectation that everyone will do it.

      For example, driving at 70mph on a 60mph limit highway.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    On a somewhat (ok completely) unrelated note, for those of us who have ever watched the 80’s cartoon Inspector Gadget…

    I wonder if his Gadget mobile got better mileage in fastback mode than it did in minivan mode.

    Back on topic.

    Sounds like it was Ford, but ya never know. *wink wink*

  • avatar

    Nobody like a snitch. Especially TTAC when it messes with one of their golden boys.
    Keep in mind, Ford has gotten attention for one model. And it’s a hybrid. And it’s observed fuel economy seems inconsistent with what the window sticker says. However, no one from the EPA has come forward and said that they lied and that it can’t meet the numbers under the EPA test. And again, it’s a hybrid which has an even screwier testing procedure. If it can do the number under EPA tests, Ford’s sitution is completely different than Hyundai’s.
    That’s a lot different than being caught red handed with several of the cars in your lineup blatantly having false info on the window stickers.
    Ford has thrown a lot of folks under the bus recently but Hyundai brought this one on themselves.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    What is disturbing is that EPA needed to be informed of this possible fudging. Shouldn’t there already be a system to check compliance?

    • 0 avatar

      There is the EPA regularly tests a small percentage of vehicles to see if they can match the advertised numbers on their dyno. In the case of Hyundai they admitted making a “mistake” in their calculations from converting the raw numbers obtained in the EPA specified dyno testing which has not aerodynamic drag to the numbers advertised.

      The other thing hardly anyone mentions is the fact that the test procedure madates using a specific formulation of gasoline which most of the people in the country can not get due to states that mandate E10 and the renewable fuel standards that mean oil companies must blend in a minimum amount of ethanol which means that pumps even in states w/o a mandate often contain some ethanol even if it is not a full 10%.

      Years ago I saw a study done by a university where they studied the affects of ethanol on MPG. They ran tests per the EPA standards on a number of cars with the test spec gasoline and E10. The effects varied significantly from vehicle to vehicle with the worst car losing 15% on E10. Personally I’ve found with a number of my vehicles loose of about 10% with E10. This was done when traveling to states that had separate pumps for E10 back in the day and by traveling to states that do not mandate E10 since that became the only fuel available in my area.

  • avatar

    Accusing a competitor of cheating and whistle-blowing are two different things.

    One is just that, accusations, while a whistle-blower probably has concrete evidence of some kind.

    Let’s say Mulally calls the EPA accusing Hyundai/Kia of overblown MPG figures.

    Does the EPA ask him what evidence he has to support this accusation, or is the accusation itself – combined with Mulally’s status in the industry – enough to prod them into action?

    If that was the case, who _wouldn’t_ be important enough to prod the EPA into action? Whom do they just dismiss as conspiracy theorists envious of Hyundai/Kia’s fuel economy?

    Finally, if Margo Oge is going to accuse an automaker of snitching, I’m a bit puzzled why she’s keeping mum about who it was.

    Why stir up controversy and invite blind conjecture when verifiable facts and the truth would better serve the consumer’s interests?

    At this point, no matter who you pick as the culprit, you’re 33.3% likely to be correct…

  • avatar

    I could truly care less about who turned Hyundai in. Doesn’t matter to me at all. I’m just glad they got caught.

  • avatar

    It was Chrysler from the grassy knoll!

    To paraphrase Apocalypse Now: “Convicting any motor company for fraudulent MPG claims is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500”

  • avatar

    Argh…This is nothing. In Brazil, Hyundai claims their cars have more airbags than they actually do, their engines have less horsepower and torque than they advertize. In light of this inflated MPGs is nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      “In Brazil, Hyundai claims their cars have more airbags than they actually do . . . ”

      Ooooo, do tell!

    • 0 avatar

      This should be a headline here. Get us the story Marcelo.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually this happened in the US as well. I don’t recall the model – I think it was a GM sedan. Basically it was being sold to rental fleets without the airbags that normally came standard in the car. A couple years down the road as these cars hit the secondary markets, consumers were buying used cars under the impression that they had side-impact airbags, when, in fact, they didn’t.

      It was a minor story, but I recall TTAC covering it. It certainly raised some interesting questions… kind of like the dodgy reseller who will replace an airbag cover without putting an airbag in. Except it was a major automobile manufacturer.

  • avatar

    So, it isn’t right for Ford to turn in someone for fraudulent EPA numbers when they MIGHT have their own problems with a model on testing.

    Even if Ford DOES have a problem with the testing procedure, I don’t see it as a problem. Hyundai and Kia were lying about their numbers. If Ford is doing it too, then Ford is the same has Hyundai and Kia as far as this is concerned.

    It seems that there has been more negative press around here on Ford Fusion hybrid numbers that MAY not meet EPA numbers, without actual information about EPA testing, but Hyundai/Kia has been shown to have actually LIED about their EPA numbers. It seems to me that the focus on this story is wrong. More info on how Hyundai/Kia didn’t know how to test or blatantly lied about it.

  • avatar

    It takes a thief to know a thief …
    just saying!

  • avatar

    Does anyone think that everyone, including the EPA, was oblivious before this phone call? Numerous individuals had made complaints, news articles were written, etc.

    So what really prompted the investigation? The phone call, the sheer quantity of complaints, evidence, or something else? We don’t know. Perhaps the VP said that they were benchmarking their mpg versus Hyundai’s and had proof.

    The fact is that Hyundai was lying, and it is a good thing—not something to be guilty of—that they were reported. If it was Ford, then good for them. Now, if Ford is lying about their hybrid numbers, then good for whoever reports them.

  • avatar

    It was Tesla.

  • avatar

    The fact that the EPA needs a phone call tip-off in the first place shows terrible incompetence. Cars are barely even a hobby to me, much less a (taxpayer-funded) “job,” so how is it that I can spot the MPG outlier among such similar, commoditized cars like the Focus, Elantra, Civic, Corolla, Sentra, etc., and a gov’t agency in love with meddling can’t see it without a secret phone call?

  • avatar

    Look at the bright side. For years, everyone complained that automakers and vehicle owners didn’t care enough about fuel economy.

    Now, fuel economy is so important to customers that some car companies are apparently willing to cheat to achieve better numbers.

  • avatar

    Typical Ford, the most dishonest/arrogant/deceitful car company in the world.

    But the best part, is that shortly after they tattled on HK, they get caught for doing the exact same thing….only WORSE!

    Why people continue to support such a corrupt company is beyone me. It’s like supporting the Mafia, Bernie Madoff, Tom Petters, etc

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