Update: Hyundai releases statement on Calif. lawsuitTue, 10 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0700
UPDATE: Hyundai Motor America contacted Autoweek on Wednesday with a statement in regard to the case:
Hyundai Motor America believes this case has no merit, as our advertising is accurate and in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In fact, we've reviewed our ads and think Consumer Watchdog and their client are dead wrong.
A group called Consumer Watchdog announced that it is suing Hyundai on behalf of drivers who purchased 2011 and 2012 Elantras based on claims that Hyundai made in its advertising for the Elantra.
In Bird v. Hyundai Motor Cars, the plaintiff, Louis Bird, alleges that in “high-impact television, Internet and print advertisements” Hyundai neglected to inform consumers that 40-mpg estimates for the Elantra were for highway driving and that the car would return different efficiency figures during city driving. Bird presumably missed the Monroney label that is required by federal law to be posted in every new car sold in the United States.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that any vehicle chasing an ambulance closely is likely to see significant fuel-mileage increases, but we were unable to reach any of the attorneys involved in this case to confirm it.
The press release is reproduced in its entirety below:
CONSUMER WATCHDOG NEWS RELEASE
Hyundai Sued for Misleading '40 MPG' Elantra Ads
Hyundai's Gas Mileage Claims in 2011 and 2012 Elantra Advertising Campaign Misled California Drivers
Santa Monica, CA – Hyundai Motor America misled consumers about the gas mileage of the 2011 and 2012 Elantra through a broad-based media advertising campaign designed to capitalize on public concern over escalating gas prices, according to a lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog and Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP.
The lawsuit alleges that Hyundai touted "The 40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra" in high-impact television, Internet, and print advertisements without government-required disclosures that those mileage estimates were for highway driving only and that city driving mileage estimates were much lower. The omitted disclosures would have informed consumers that the car does not attain 40 MPG under most driving conditions. The illegal advertisements caused tens of thousands of California drivers to purchase or lease 2011 and 2012 Elantras and consequently incur unexpected fuel costs.
Download the lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/birdcomplaint.pdf
"I feel like Hyundai took advantage me. Hyundai's advertisements about the '40 MPG' gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me," said Louis Bird of Sacramento, California, a 2011 Elantra owner who is representing other consumers in the class-action lawsuit and meticulously documents his mileage. "I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn't seen Hyundai's ads boasting about gas mileage."
The lawsuit seeks to stop Hyundai from illegally using gas mileage numbers in its advertising of the Elantra without government-mandated disclosures and asks for damages on behalf of California residents who purchased or leased 2011 and 2012 Elantras.
"Hyundai used the '40 MPG' figure in a deceptive manner in order to differentiate the Elantra from similar vehicles, an especially egregious tactic during a time when consumers are looking for relief from continually rising gasoline prices," said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog.
"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."
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By David Arnouts