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Auto blogWed, 25 Dec 2013 16:01:00 EST
Hyundai-Kia ended up with a lot of kimchi on its face in 2012 when it admitted it had mistakenly exaggerated fuel economy estimates on several 2012 and 2013 model-year offerings like the Hyundai Accent, Veloster and Elantra and Kia Soul. Before the admission a lawsuit had been filed by an entity called Consumer Watchdog, afterward there were "approximately 53" lawsuits filed in federal court that were eventually consolidated into one case in a California Central District court.
The companies apologized profusely and gave customers prepaid gas cards that they could refill with funds for as long as they own their vehicle, as well as perks like free car washes and routine maintenance services. The company has just announced that it has reached a preliminary settlement of the case by adding another method of reimbursement, a lump sum payment that would free drivers from having to go back to the dealership to have their mileage verified for debit card refills.
Assuming the preliminary agreement is approved by the judge, customers could choose the lump sum or the cards. The settlement's value could be as much as $210 million, but the exact number depends on which program plaintiffs choose. On average, affected customers will receive $353. Approval could come in "early 2014," after which Hyundai will notify customers. You'll find more particulars on the potential settlement in the press release below.
While its sister brand Hyundai invests in hydrogen fuel cell technology, Kia is entering the battery-powered electric vehicle market with the new Soul EV. The Korean automaker plans to sell some 5,000 units of its first electric vehicle around the world. While it's not saying exactly what proportion it hopes to sell in (or how many it's allocating to) any individual market, the latest reports indicate that it expects the United States to be its biggest market.
Part of that may come down to the growing popularity of electric vehicles in America, but also to the substantial incentives offered by federal and local government agencies towards buying an EV. Though the Soul EV retails for a reported 42.5 million won in South Korea - equivalent to less than $41,500 at today's rates, of which the battery alone accounts for about 40 percent - incentives will mean that the actual cost to a buyer in the US will be about half that, although Kia hasn't announced official pricing yet.
The latest electric vehicle on the market is based on the existing Kia Soul hatchback, a vehicle chosen due to its packaging vis-à-vis more conventionally shaped vehicles. The 27 kWh lithium ion battery pack adds about 330 pounds to the vehicle's curb weight, resulting in a 0-62 time of 11.2 seconds and a 92-mile range. The Kia Soul EV will initially be sold only in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
Big Changes Below, But Just A Little Off The Top
It happens all the time. Three or four years into an automobile's lifecycle, the manufacturer goes back to the drawing board, making what it hopes are vital improvements to keep its product at the top of the sales charts. It's true of the vehicle we're discussing today, the 2014 Kia Sorento, but unlike many midlife facelifts, most of what's new here can't be seen with the naked eye.
Yes, there are the normal changes to the front and rear fascias, and a few nips and tucks here and there to improve the crossover's outward appearance. But, for the first time in as long as we can remember, the big news here is that the new Sorento is actually riding atop a new platform, according to Kia.