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Hyundai-Kia Public Relations Showcase

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

LOS ANGELES, November 29, 2012. Early this month, Hyundai-Kia made an announcement about misstating fuel economy ratings. The Korean car manufacturer had been prompted by the US Environmental Protection Agency to lower the fuel economy estimated on a slew of 2011-2013 models after the EPA found differences between its own results and the company’s data.

Executive of both brands made their apologies and in an interview to The Detroit News, John Krafcik, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said to make it right to the customers. Some 900,000 vehicles are involved of both brands.

Firstly, the fuel economy ratings for the effected models were corrected, while vehicles in show rooms were relabeled. Furthermore, both companies launched a communication campaign to inform customers and installed designated websites, where owners can find the list of affected vehicles and the reimbursement program. By signing in with the VIN number of their car, they can immediately see if they are eligible to be reimbursed.

A month later, Mr. Krafcik has proven the company indeed is making it right. Yesterday,. during the presentation of the new Santa Fe and the Veloster C3 Rolltop Concept at the LA Auto Show, Mr. Krafcik said that 90 per cent of the customers are really satisfied with the reimbursement program and extremely pleased by the speedy actions taken.

The company will compensate each affected owner with the added fuel costs, in respect of the corrected MPG ratings. The costs are depending on the gas prices per state. On top of that, the owner receives 15 per cent of total for the inconvenience he or she experienced. Mr. Krafcik said it is not an easy time for the company, but the controversy has been addressed in such a way that it has not hurt the Korean automaker’s soaring sales.

But it comes at a price, which, according to analysts could be as high as 1 billion dollars, but Mr. Krafcik could not confirm that number. He believes that there will be no long term damage to the brand. I believe that too: Hyundai-Kia made a tough, but right decision and is showing how to solve a sensitive problem to keep the customers on board and to generate goodwill in the automotive community…congratulations.