Hyundai to continue fuel economy pitch despite inflated mpg claims
Krafcik: "This whole episode has been a difficult one for Hyundai."
Fuel efficiency and mpg ratings will continue to be a focal point of Hyundai marketing, even as its trust with many U.S. buyers has been dented after the company exaggerated fuel economy figures on many models, the company's top U.S. chief said Wednesday.
John Krafcik, CEO of the company's American unit, said Hyundai is working to fix the situation with consumers.
Hyundai and its sister brand, Kia, are adjusting the ratings of 900,000 vehicles sold in the 2011-2013 model years following several consumer complaints filed with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The adjustments -- among the largest ever required of an automaker -- affect more than one-third of all Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold during that time.
Hyundai overstated fuel-economy figures by an average of 3 percent.
Krafcik said Hyundai has sent letters to consumers and will reimburse them for as long as they own their vehicles.
"We're treating this like the serious matter that it is," he said in remarks at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "This whole episode has been a difficult one for Hyundai."
About 90 percent of customers have been satisfied with Hyundai's moves, Krafcik said.
Still, he wouldn't discuss legal implications for the company and wouldn't specify figures for any potential settlements.
"I don't know what the number is going to be," he said.
He also wouldn't address the possibility of disciplinary action for company officials, saying "that's not for me to decide."
After aggressively touting its lineup of vehicles that deliver at least 40 mpg, Krafcik said the company no longer has any models that officially reach that mark.
But fuel efficiency will remain a highlight of Hyundai's marketing efforts.
"It's been a cornerstone of our brand, and we're going to continue," he said.
Krafcik told Reuters on Wednesday the restatement of EPA fuel economy figures has had no impact so far on Hyundai's U.S. sales.
But he reiterated that Hyundai is likely to lose U.S. market share in 2012 due to vehicle shortages.
Though the brand's reputation has taken a hit, Hyundai has added another shift at its Alabama factory to meet demand and is still within reach of a record sales year.
The added shift will mean an extra 15,000 vehicles this year and 60,000 annually over a full year.
Reuters and David Phillips contributed to this report