Honda's Mendel: Faulty mpg claims hurt the industry
Mendel: Something that happens to one of us affects trust in all of us.
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
DETROIT -- Automakers' overstating of their fuel economy numbers have injured the reputation of the entire industry, Honda's top U.S. sales executive said.
"Aggressive fuel economy claims that turned out to be not so accurate puts pressure on all of us," John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co. executive vice president for automobile sales, told the Automotive News World Congress. "Competitive pressure should never let us betray the trust of our customers."
Public perception of the auto industry "doesn't rank tremendously high," he said. "Something that happens to one of us affects public trust in all of us." He didn't single out any automaker by name.
Last year, an EPA investigation found discrepancies between the fuel economy test results reported by Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America and the agency's results. Hyundai had actively marketed itself as the industry's most fuel-efficient brand.
In December, the EPA said it will review Consumer Reports' data that show Ford Motor Co.'s two newest hybrid models fell below the company's promise of 47 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford was in the audience at Mendel's speech but declined to comment, saying only, "Mr. Mendel is welcome to his opinions."
Kia spokesman Scott McKee referred reporters to a company Web site, kiampginfo.com, which includes a transcript of the conference call in which Hyundai and Kia top executives apologized for the errors and offered compensation to affected owners.
A Ford spokesman wrote in an e-mail that early C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers "report a range of fuel economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg, reinforcing the fact that driving styles, driving conditions and other factors can cause mileage to vary."
As Honda surges toward a North American target of 2 million annual sales, Mendel noted that American Honda's operations are taking a larger stake in Honda's global r&d effort. American Honda will lead development of the next-generation Civic, Accord, CR-V and Acura NSX.
By the end of 2014, he said, 95 percent of Hondas and Acuras sold in the United States will be built in North America, up from 90 percent now.
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