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More area consumers suing Hyundai over inflated fuel economy

Hyundai SantFe is shown during its world debut LA AuShow Los Angeles Nov. 28. | AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Hyundai Santa Fe is shown during its world debut at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles on Nov. 28. | AP Photo/Chris Carlson

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Updated: January 6, 2013 9:52AM



A Lockport couple is part of a new group of consumers suing Korean carmaker Hyundai over exaggerated fuel economy claims connected to more than 600,000 vehicles.

Sarah and James Kundrat, of Lockport, filed the class-action lawsuit in federal court Monday along with Schiller Park resident James Gudgalis.

Nilufar Rezai, who bought a 2013 Santa Fe Sport from a Chicago dealership in October, filed a similar federal class-action suit Nov. 14, also taking aim at the inflated gas mileage claims.

On Nov. 2, Hyundai and Kia announced a “procedural error” at the companies’ joint testing operations in Korea led to cars being labeled with fuel economy ratings an average of 3 percent higher than they actually performed, the carmaker said in a release.

The error affected more than 600,000 Hyundai vehicles in the 2011 to 2013 model year in the Elantra, Sonata, Accent, Tuscon, Santa Fe, Azera, Genesis and Veloster lines.

The plaintiffs in Monday’s lawsuit all claim they bought their Hyundai Elantra vehicles in part because of advertisements touting the model’s 40-mpg highway rating. Their cars did not achieve that mileage in the real world, they claim.

Gudgalis bought his new 2013 Elantra from a Matteson dealership in July, the suit says. The Kundrats bought their new 2011 Elantra at a Tinley Park dealership in April 2011.

Monday’s suit claims violations of Illinois consumer protections laws, as well as unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation and breach of express warranty.

The carmaker has established a reimbursement program, issuing customers a debit card to compensate them for additional fuel costs as long as they own the car, plus an extra 15 percent, according to Hyundai’s website.

“We think our reimbursement program provides the best, quickest, and most customer-focused remedy,” Hyundai spokesman Christopher Hosford said in response to the November lawsuit.

“Owners have responded very favorably to the plan. Our priority is to make this right for our owners, and that’s precisely what this program does.”

The company had no further statement regarding Monday’s lawsuit, a spokesman said.

Kia has also established a reimbursement program for 300,000 owners who bought certain Optima, Rio, Sorento, Soul and Sportage models in the 2011 to 2013 model years.

Both carmakers say they are relabeling all vehicles still at dealerships and correcting errors in its testing process that led to the inflated ratings.

Monday’s suit demands reimbursement of the full cost of the vehicle to owners, and seeks to force Hyundai to turn over its profits from the sale of the vehicles. The suit also aims to halt what it calls “false advertising” about mileage claims, and asks the carmaker to “disseminate an informational campaign to correct its misrepresentations and material omissions.”

The previous lawsuit sought at least $10,000 for every owner who bought one of the affected vehicles, and asked the court to establish a fund of at least $1 billion to be distributed to the plaintiffs.



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