WASHINGTON—Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp. and their three U.S. subsidiaries have agreed to pay $100 million in fines to settle charges that they sold nearly 1.2 million vehicles with inaccurate fuel economy ratings.
This fine, the largest in Clean Air Act history, is part of a settlement agreement filed Nov. 3 before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The U.S. Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board were the joint plaintiffs.
According to the settlement, Hyundai and Kia understated estimates for tailpipe emissions from its model year 2012 and 2013 vehicles by some 4.75 million metric tons.
The design specifications of those vehicles did not conform to the designs the auto makers provided to the Environmental Protection Agency, the document said. Also, Hyundai and Kia overstated the fuel economy of the subject vehicles by one to six miles per gallon.
The vehicles included the Hyundai Elantra, Veloster, Santa Fe and Accent, as well as the Kia Rio and Soul, the EPA said in a news release.
The EPA uncovered the discrepancies during routine audit testing in 2012, the agency said. In its subsequent investigation, the EPA allegedly discovered that Hyundai and Kia had given the agency the most favorable results from its fuel economy testing, rather than the average test scores as mandated under the Clean Air Act.
CARB will receive $6.34 million of the $100 million settlement. In addition to paying the fines, Hyundai and Kia have agreed to:
• Surrender 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits, worth more than $200 million;
• Spend $50 million to prevent any future Clean Air Act violations;
• Audit their model year 2015 and 2016 vehicle fleets to make sure they conform to the information they provide the EPA; and
• Revise their fuel economy test protocols before providing the EPA with fuel economy information for model year 2017.
Hyundai and Kia previously agreed to revise fuel economy estimates for model years 2012 and 2013 and to reimburse vehicle owners for the difference in estimated fuel costs between the old and new estimates.
The settlement agreement is subject to court approval and a 30-day public comment period.