The North American subsidiaries of Hyundai and Kia have reached an agreement to pay a total of $395 million (R4.1 billion) to settle lawsuits filed by owners of cars affected by the companies' understatements of fuel consumption ratings.
The agreement will affect American owners of about 600 000 Hyundai and 300 000 Kia vehicles from the 2011 to 2013 model years.
In November 2012, the two companies conceded that they had understated their fuel consumption figures after the US Environmental Protection Agency found errors for 13 Hyundai and Kia models from the 2011 to 2013 model years.
Hyundai and Kia both gained bigger shares of the US market in the past decade, particularly during the economic downturn of 2008 to 2010, when buyers saw bargains in their line-ups of fuel-efficient and relatively low-priced vehicles.
The amount each company pays out will depend on how many owners opt for a one-time payment rather than participate in a 'lifetime reimbursement' programme in which owners get debit cards to pay them for the difference between actual fuel consumption and what the company stated.
Hyundai estimates that the lump-sum payments will cost about $210 million (R2.2 billion), and for Kia the figure is $185 million (R1.9 billion).
Hyundai estimated that the average lump sum payment would about $320 (R3300), minus any previous reimbursement payments received.
Brad Benson, dealer principal of a Hyundai agency in South Brunswick, New Jersey, said the fuel economy issue hadn't had a major effect on sales.
“Hyundai handled the initial settlement well in November 2012, and we've had no issues with customers,” Benson said.
The proposed settlement will go to the plaintiffs of the 53 US lawsuits filed, which were later consolidated. If the plaintiffs accept the settlement, it will then go up for approval by the US District Court for the Central District of California.
The proposed settlement does not affect class-action cases brought in Canada. Hyundai spokesman Chad Heard in Canada said Hyundai hoped that a proposed settlement to those cases could be reached early in 2014. - Reuters