Kia Canada under fire over fuel economy controversy
Lynda Steele & Sandra Hermiston, CTV British Columbia
Published Tuesday, January 29, 2013 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7:11PM PST
Kia Canada is facing a class action lawsuit after admitting that some of their vehicles aren’t as fuel efficient as they advertised.
Kia owner Sid Segal has joined the lawsuit. He bought his Kia Soul in March 2012, partially because of its advertised fuel economy of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres.
But soon after, Segal found himself filling his car’s gas tank twice a week. He started to keep records and discovered his fuel efficiency was closer to 13 litres per 100 kilometres.
"I'm really upset about it. I want to return it. I have actually encouraged friends of ours to buy a Kia and I'm upset about that and they're upset about the misleading advertising," said Segal.
At every Kia service call, Segal complained about the gas mileage. But according to him, the technicians insisted there was nothing wrong with the car.
So when Segal heard news that Kia was being forced to reimburse owners for overstating fuel economy claims, following a U.S. government audit in November, he was not surprised. Kia admitted that owners could more reasonably expect to burn 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres.
Shortly after the news broke, Segal received a letter from Kia stating it “sincerely regrets the procedural errors that led to the adjustment we recently made to the published fuel consumption rates.”
Kia agreed to give owners like Segal a yearly pre-paid credit card worth $85 to make up for the extra fuel costs. But Segal claims his cost overruns are closer to $1,500 a year.
"I was really frustrated and really angry and upset. Because the cost if this does not get resolved for me would be over $14,000 for the lifetime of the car," said Segal.
Consumer reporter Lynda Steele phoned executives at Kia to find out if there was any chance that the company would take Segal’s vehicle back.
"There has been no evidence that there is anything wrong with the vehicle," said Kia Canada’s national marketing manager Jack Sulymka. "In the event there was an actual defect with the vehicle we would obviously look at ways to compensate. In this particular case here, we do have a compensation plan that we rolled out consistently with all those 41,000 affected vehicles."
BC Institute of Technology automotive instructor Gary Miller claims some vehicles deliver better in the real environment than others do, but agrees that Segal’s situation seems to be out of the ordinary.
Miller says unhappy car owners can appeal to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan for free. CAMVAP is an impartial arbitrator that will hear the complaint and make a binding decision. It could force the manufacturer to repair the problem at its expense, reimburse customers for repairs and out of pocket expenses or even buy the vehicle back.
The class action lawsuit includes 15 models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles and claims Kia launched a flashy marketing campaign to sell its vehicles based on unrealistic fuel economy claims. You can get more information on this lawsuit at classaction.ca