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updated: 11/8/2012 6:21 AM

Hyundai faces U.S. lawsuits for overstate fuel efficiency

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Bloomberg News

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. face consumer lawsuits in the U.S. after the Korean carmakers admitted they overstated the fuel efficiency of their latest models.

A Hyundai owner and a Kia owner filed a complaint Nov. 2 in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., seeking to represent other owners of certain 2011 through 2013 models in a class action, or group lawsuit, over the misrepresentations. Hagen Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a Seattle-based law firm representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement that it filed a second lawsuit in Los Angeles on behalf of owners.

The new lawsuit challenges the reimbursement program Hyundai and Kia have offered affected owners, the firm said. The economic damage to Hyundai and Kia owners could "approach" $775 million, the law firm said.

The Seoul-based affiliates, which share engines, model platforms and a chairman, must re-label the window stickers on their cars and trucks for the error, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week.

The automakers said in a statement that they will issue debit cards to buyers of about 900,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. in the past two years to reimburse them for higher-than-expected fuel expenses. The companies said the overstatement resulted from "procedural errors" at their testing facility in South Korea.

"Our reimbursement program provides the best, quickest and most customer-focused remedy," Chris Hosford, a spokesman for Hyundai said when asked for comment on the lawsuit.

Representatives of Kia's U.S. affiliate didn't immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is Hunter v. Hyundai Motor America, 12-01909, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana.)

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