Hyundai Motor and Ssangyong Motor are coming under increasing pressure from the Korean government to compensate consumers for reporting inaccurate fuel mileage figures for their sport utility vehicles.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport last month reportedly sent official documents to the two carmakers, asking them to acknowledge their false gas mileage claims and implement follow-up measures as soon as possible.
In June, the ministry’s fuel economy tests showed that Hyundai’s Santa Fe DM R 2.0 2WD and Ssangyong’s Korando Sports CX7 4WD’s fuel efficiency reports were overstated.
A Hyundai Motor official told The Korea Herald that he could neither confirm nor deny that the company received the documents from the Transport Ministry.
|Hyundai Motor’s Santa Fe. ( Hyundai Motor)|
Under the law, automakers are required to notify car owners within 30 days of discovering that their vehicle’s efficiency ratings are inflated. This means they were supposed to notify consumers by July 25.
But Hyundai Motor and Ssangyong Motor have refused, noting that test results from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy showed that they correctly stated the vehicles’ fuel economy.
They have also claimed that they have not received any official documents from the agency regarding the issue.
The Trade Ministry announced that the discrepancies between the stated and actual gas mileages of the two Korean cars were within the legal limit of 5 percent.
After the different test results spurred controversy among carmakers, the government decided to give the Transport Ministry the authority to hold vehicle tests in the future.
The ministry also decided to impose fines of 1 billion won ($965,000) and 200 million won against Hyundai and Ssangyoung, respectively for falsifying their fuel economy reports.
Industry sources said that carmakers will not be able to resist pressure from the Transport Ministry, as it has the power to control vehicular regulations, including vehicle recalls.
In July, a group of 1,785 car owners, including owners of the Santa Fe and Korando, filed a lawsuit with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking between 1.5 million won and 3 million won in compensation.
By Park Han-na and news reports