Consumer Watchdog is taking Korean automaker Hyundai Motor to court, claiming the automaker deceived people with television ads touting fuel economy. The group claims the ads plug “the 40-mile-per-gallon Elantra,” a figure that reflects highway mileage only, and not the city or combined fuel economy rating.
According to a report in Automotive News, plaintiff Louis Bird of Sacramento, Calif., claims he bought the Elantra based on the advertising and has had to pay significantly more to refuel than he originally believed.
The rationale behind this seems ill-advised and unfortunate. If the plaintiff had read an Automotive.com review of the Elantra, he would see clearly specified city, highway, and combined figures. But, if a person was so unwise to not read Automotive.com regularly, surely they would at least do some research beyond purchasing a brand new car based solely on a TV ad.
Hyundai even lists these figures online, and the plaintiff would clearly see the fuel economy ratings, including Elantra city and combined figures, right on the Monroney sticker pasted on the window of a new car on dealer lots. The idea that fine print disclosures in TV ads are difficult to read and process is fair—it seems as if pharmaceutical companies are especially flagrant violators, pasting the entirety of Tolstoy’s War and Peace or similar in two-second blips on screen. Automakers are guilty of this too, and so is just about every other entity trying to sell something based on select information that may be true, but used in a manner so that the product being advertised is seen favorably.
Automotive.com reported on a similar case earlier this year, where the plaintiff sued Honda Motor Co., claiming a similar fuel economy grievance regarding her hybrid. The original ruling in that case was overturned in favor of Honda, and may serve as a precedence here, too.
Source: Automotive News