Hyundai nearing settlement of gas mileage cases

February 27, 2013 - 6:29 PM

DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai Motor Co. is close to settling 38 federal lawsuits filed after it overstated the fuel economy of its cars.

In a filing this week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Hyundai says it will make lump-sum payments to around 600,000 owners of cars and SUVs from the 2011 through 2013 model years, including the Elantra sedan. The amount of the payments wasn't given. They will vary based on the vehicle and how much its mileage was overstated.

Hyundai's sister company, Kia Motors, is still deciding whether to participate in the settlement. Approximately 300,000 Kia owners are affected.

The Environmental Protection Agency found inflated numbers on 13 Hyundai and Kia vehicles in November. Hyundai and Kia acknowledged the problem, changed the fuel economy numbers and blamed a procedural error. Since then Hyundai and Kia have been compensating owners with payments of around $88 annually, which is based on the amount the mileage was overstated and the average price of gasoline.

Some buyers refused to settle and sued in federal court, where Hyundai is now negotiating with plaintiffs. Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

At least one group of plaintiffs, represented by a California-based group called Consumer Watchdog, is objecting to the proposed settlement in part because the amount of the payments hasn't been released. The group also said in court documents that it's concerned any unclaimed payments will revert to Hyundai instead of to buyers.

The vehicles involved include the Hyundai Azera, Accent, Genesis, Santa Fe, Sonata Hybrid, Tucson and Veloster and the Kia Optima Hybrid, Rio, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.