A lawsuit claims Hyundai misled consumers about the gas mileage of the 2011 and 2012 Elantra, using a high-powered advertising campaign to capitalize on public concern over escalating gas prices.
The lawsuit, filed by Consumer Watchdog and Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP, alleges that Hyundai touted "The 40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra" in high-impact television, Internet, and print advertisements without government-required disclosures that those mileage estimates were for highway driving only and that city driving mileage estimates were much lower.
The omitted disclosures would have informed consumers that the car does not attain 40 MPG under most driving conditions. The illegal advertisements caused tens of thousands of California drivers to purchase or lease 2011 and 2012 Elantras and consequently incur unexpected fuel costs, the suit alleges.
"I feel like Hyundai took advantage me. Hyundai's advertisements about the ‘40 MPG’ gas mileage of the Elantra instantly caught my attention. I bought the car thinking I would be seeing major savings at the pump and getting over 500 miles per tank, but Hyundai fooled me," said Louis Bird of Sacramento, a 2011 Elantra owner who is representing other consumers in the class-action lawsuit and meticulously documents his mileage.
"I have not saved any money on gas and have been driving the Elantra for well over a year now. It is frustrating and disappointing. I never would have bought the Elantra in the first place if I hadn’t seen Hyundai’s ads boasting about gas mileage," Bird said.
The lawsuit seeks to stop Hyundai from illegally using gas mileage numbers in its advertising of the Elantra without government-mandated disclosures and asks for damages on behalf of California residents who purchased or leased 2011 and 2012 Elantras.
"Hyundai used the '40 MPG' figure in a deceptive manner in order to differentiate the Elantra from similar vehicles, an especially egregious tactic during a time when consumers are looking for relief from continually rising gasoline prices," said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog.
"Car companies are required to disclose certain information when mileage estimates are provided in their advertisements and Hyundai ignored the rules," said William Anderson, attorney for Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca, LLP. "Without this required information, consumers cannot make accurate comparisons when shopping for vehicles."