Auto industry scolding evokes echoes of the past
John Mendel: Flawed mpg numbers hurt the industry as a whole.
We all recall the tongue-lashing Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik gave the industry four years ago in a speech at the Chicago Auto Show. With the auto business in turmoil, Krafcik said carmakers must stop dragging their feet on the issues of environment, safety and good business practices.
"Let's face it, our reputation as an industry is horrible," he said.
But that Windy City scolding was ridiculed in November, when Hyundai and Kia admitted to selling 900,000 2011-13 vehicles with overstated mileage ratings.
And last week Krafcik got some of his own medicine when American Honda sales boss John Mendel gave a speech at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit that sounded remarkably like Krafcik, circa 2009.
"Aggressive fuel economy claims that turned out to be not so accurate puts pressure on all of us," said Mendel. "Competitive pressure should never let us betray the trust of our customers."
Mendel said the public's perception of the auto industry "doesn't rank tremendously high," and added: "Something that happens to one of us affects public trust in all of us."
He didn't name specific automakers. Since then, similar allegations about mileage claims also have dogged some Ford vehicles. Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford was in the audience at Mendel's speech, but declined to comment, except to say: "Mr. Mendel is welcome to his opinions."