GM Overstates Fuel-Economy Numbers, Will Pay Out $100 Million

2016 GMC Acadia SLT

Rarely do people buy SUVs for the stellar fuel economy they deliver.

When people do buy an SUV, though, they should be properly informed of how often they should expect to stop at a gas station. The numbers on the window sticker are supposed to do just that, but a few automakers have gotten into trouble recently for misrepresenting their fuel-economy estimates.

In 2014, Hyundai had to pay a fine of $100 million for inflated fuel-economy numbers, in addition to compensating owners.

Mitsubishi is in the midst of crisis in its home country for the same reason, and now General Motors has admitted to providing overly optimistic numbers in the U.S.

How do inflated MPG estimates happen? Doesn’t the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency control those numbers?

Not exactly.

A Car and Driver article says,

While the public mistakenly presumes that this federal agency is hard at work conducting complicated tests on every new model of truck, van, car, and SUV, in reality, just 18 of the EPA’s 17,000 employees work in the automobile-testing department in Ann Arbor, Michigan, examining 200 to 250 vehicles a year, or roughly 15 percent of new models. As to that other 85 percent, the EPA takes automakers at their word—without any testing—accepting submitted results as accurate.

That’s where problems can arise, as GM just learned.

General Motors has announced that it will compensate 135,000 U.S. customers between $450 and $900 each after it was discovered that three models of SUVs were sold with incorrect fuel-economy ratings on their window stickers.

Affected vehicles are the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave. Automotive News says AWD versions of these vehicles were sold with window stickers claiming an EPA rating of 17 MPG city, 24 highway, and 19 combined. The numbers should have been 2 MPG lower for each. Front-wheel-drive models were also mislabeled.

Unlike the Mitsubishi and Hyundai cases, GM doesn’t seem to have misrepresented the numbers on purpose. The problem appears to have been a simple miscalculation that did not include data pertaining to new emissions-related hardware included for the 2016 model year.

Still, it’s a problem that caused GM to stop sales of the affected vehicles for about a week while new labels were rushed to dealers, and it’ll cost the company about $100 million in compensation.

The numbers on the window sticker are not exact, and buyers should expect real-world fuel economy to vary. However, we should feel pretty confident in the accuracy of future numbers when small mistakes in calculations can cost an automaker a hundred million dollars or more.

Does your fuel economy match what was on the sticker?


Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Chevrolet Traverse
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1 Comment

  1. Damn, if these companies do like these , they loose their credibility. Mitsubishi and GM are popular brands in SUV cars. I have felt the mpg the companies promise is quite hard to achieve. I own Dodge RAM. I use a fuel addictive recommended by my truck service center for fuel economy. And, it’s doing well. Furthermore, we don’t buy a truck for fuel economy, eh?

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