DETROIT -- General Motors will offer owners of 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave crossovers debit cards worth $450 to $1,500 to compensate them for buying the vehicles with inflated fuel-economy estimates.
GM said the payment offers will be made to about 135,000 retail customers “who may pay more for fuel than they expected after viewing the incorrect window label when they purchased or leased their vehicle.” The company said it would notify dealers of the plan Friday and would FedEx letters to customers starting Wednesday.
Buyers will be offered the choice of a debit card or an extended warranty. Lessees will be offered only the debit card, GM said.
GM will spend about $100 million on the program, Reuters and Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources. GM declined to disclose the figure, but said the cost “will not materially impact our financial results.”
“We want all of our customers to have a great ownership experience, so we designed this reimbursement program to provide full and fair compensation in a simple, flexible and timely manner,” a GM spokesman said in a statement.
GM told dealers last week to stop selling the crossovers because it discovered an “inadvertent error” that led to the EPA window stickers overstating fuel economy by 1 to 2 mpg, depending on the model.
GM said Wednesday that some pollution-control hardware was changed for the 2016 model year, which resulted in a recalculation of the EPA ratings. But somehow the new figures never made it to the EPA and GM’s marketing materials.
The debit-card payouts will vary depending on a number of factors including the difference between the actual EPA rating and the erroneous labels. The average value will range from $450 to $900, GM said, although some customers will receive more or less.
A small number of lease customers could get debit cards with values of less than $450, if they had a short lease term and a low mileage limit, for example.
Some payouts to lease customers could be as low as $300, GM says. Some owners who purchased models with the widest mpg discrepancy will get up to $1,500, a GM spokesman said.
The protection-plan option is for 48 months/60,000 miles, up from the 36-month/36,000-mile warranties that came with the purchase.
The EPA has not commented on whether it will fine GM for the inaccurate ratings. At least one lawsuit seeking class-action status has been filed.
Another 30,000 to 35,000 of the crossovers were sold to fleet customers. GM has not yet disclosed any plan to compensate those buyers.
GM has resumed selling the 2016 models after the brief stop-sale order during which incorrect windrow stickers were replaced with new ones showing updated mpg ratings.
The correct EPA ratings for all-wheel-drive models of all three GM crossovers are 15 mpg city/22 highway/17 combined. The incorrect label showed 17 mpg city/24 highway/19 combined.
The ratings for front-wheel-drive models -- 15 mpg city/22 highway/18 combined -- also were listed incorrectly on the label.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.