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.
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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.)