An Example of Righting a Wrong: Kia Canada

Dare I say it, but sometimes major corporations actually do the right thing.  Mistakes happen and pardons are in order.

About this time last year, my wife and I decided to purchase a 2012 Kia Soul.  Our purchase was prompted from having two aging cars, hers nearing 10 years old and mine going on 12 years old, both costing us some money every few months when major repairs were discovered and needed.  We needed at least one reliable vehicle.  After taking a few months to research our new car purchase, we settled on the Kia Soul – which had many features we were looking for.  The purchase price was right, the financing was 0% interest and the fuel economy was decent for our 2.0 L model, so the sticker on the window said:  8.5 L/100 km city and 6.8 L/100 km highway.

Over the last year, we’ve enjoyed the Soul but since the engine was “broken in” we found the fuel economy to be higher than the manufacturer’s claim – noticeably.  Since purchasing the car, I just chalked it up to a typical auto manufacturer’s claim; the Soul’s fuel economy was based on test drives in optimal conditions.  We were consuming about 0.5 L/100 km more both in city and highway driving.  Turns out this variance was not going unnoticed by management at Kia Canada, thanks to reliability ratings from Consumer Reports and other watchdog groups.  In fact, Kia Canada recently decided to do something about it – much to my surprise.

Recently, Hyundai and its Kia cousin reported the bad news they’ve known about for some time – they were posting incorrect fuel economy numbers on many new car models, dating all the way back to 2010.  The fuel economy errors involve over a dozen models from the 2011 through 2013 model years, seven Hyundais and six Kias:  Hyundai’s Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, Accent, Azera, Genesis, Tucson, Veloster and Santa Fe; Kia’s Sorrento, Rio, Sportage, Optima Hybrid and yes, our 2012 Soul. Apparently, procedural errors at their testing operations in South Korea led to incorrect fuel consumption ratings.  Hyundai and Kia have since revised (upward) their average combined fleet fuel consumption ratings by 0.3 L/100 km for the 2013 model year.  In addition to correcting fuel consumptions claims going forward for affected vehicles they are also righting their wrongs by ensuring owners of every Hyundai and Kia vehicle impacted are compensated.  Hyundai and Kia owners will be reimbursed for the fuel value difference in the combined fuel consumption rating, plus 15%.  Hyundai and Kia dealers will use odometer readings to determine how much owners might have saved if their cars used the revised (corrected) fuel economy over a year and then give owners a pre-paid credit card for difference, including an additional 15%.  We learned at our Kia dealership this week, the pre-paid credit card will be reloaded every year for as long as we own the Soul vehicle.  Based on our calculations, Kia Canada owes us over $200 – which will pay for about 1.5 months of gas in the vehicle.

What do you make of Kia Canada’s attempt to right a wrong?  Good corporate citizen or a crook caught red-handed who is scrambling to save face?

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19 Responses to "An Example of Righting a Wrong: Kia Canada"

  1. That is actually pretty cool. It is unfortunate that there was an error in the first place but I think that they have done plenty to make up for it. And it is great that they are going to keep doing this as long as you own that car, which we know will be a long time.

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  2. Fuel economy was lower or higher? I heard about this the other day and I thought it was pretty cool. I wasn’t sure if this was something they did voluntarily though or the government forced them to do it. It also doesn’t surprise me that an Asian company was the one to do this, they tend to have a lot more honor and pride in their product/company than other countries.

    As a quick example, I was in Japan for the mega quake last year and if you’ve ever been to Tokyo you know that there are vending machines literally everywhere. The company that owns the vending machines made some of their products free for a couple days when the stores were out of food. Just out of the goodness of their heart and respect for their fellow countrymen wow! If that happened in the US, companies would be jacking up the prices I bet.

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  3. I’m sure they are not the only company out there that have done something like this. Yep, they got called-out and had to do damage control. Was it the right thing, yes, was it wrong to hide it yes, should they apologize, you bet. They may lose many valued customers but they may gain some respect back by showing the customers what they will do better next time around. Mr.CBB

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  4. I need to replace my aging car and am considering Kia Soul as well. What were your reasons for settling for this model? Would you recommend it now that you’ve driven it and also experienced this issue with gas mileage?

    Thanks in advance!

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    1. Hey Be’en, we like it. Have you given it a test drive yet?

      We got a 4u, with a few toys in it, since it was our first (new) vehicle in over 10 years. I know new cars are not a good financial investment, but such is life, you gotta live once in a while. The ride is decent, heated seats are nice, 18-inch wheels are great as well. We got winter tires on rims as part of the negotiated deal.

      Overall, we like it and have no complaints to date. For the price point and features/upgrades, it works for us.

      Let me know if you want more details, I’d be glad to share more.

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  5. It’s unfortunate what happened to you and many others who had to deal with that company. I think in this isolated case Kia did the right thing to admit their mistakes and reimburse their customers. I just hope other car makers like GM’s South Korean subsidiary who also uses similar fuel measuring procedures will learn from Kia’s mistakes and not make the same ones. I remember Toyota getting into some trouble last year and recalling hundreds of thousands of vehicles in North America. In the end, there may be a silver lining to these problems, in that companies are being held more accountable to their customers :0)

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  6. One way you could save even more gas is by throwing that Kia into the back of my full sized Dodge Ram pickup: http://www.topgearrules.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2012-Dodge-Ram-1500-Mossy-Oak-Edition.jpg and I could just drive you there :).

    Actually, most of the FS pickups these days aren’t absolutely horrible on gas. They’re not wonderful, but they’re not horrible either. That monster of a vehicle actually gets highway mileage similiar to our other car (a volvo wagon).

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  7. Kevin@Invest It Wisely · Edit

    That’s cool that at least they are trying to make it up. Are Quebec taxpayers going to get a cheque for all the fraud, waste and corruption over here? I doubt it.

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  8. Thanks for the feedback.

    You are right in that if the price is right one could indulge oneself and buy a new car. I’ve never owned a new car, and have been contemplating a small SUV, and the Saul seems to fit the bill pricewise.

    I have yet to test drive one. I was eyeing Toyota RAV 4 as well but think it might be “too much of a car” for my needs!

    Reply
    1. We thought the same thing, RAV4, too much car. The Kia Soul is nice, good price, and you can get heated seats, sunroof, navigation system in it if you really want to for $30,000 taxes included if you haggle. Pretty darn good. 🙂

      So far, other than higher than posted mileage claim, no issues and a joy to drive.

      Reply

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