Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News
September 12, 2002

Hyundai Revises Horsepower Numbers on 400,000 Cars
Rick Popely, Chicago Tribune

Sep. 12 Hyundai Motor America is notifying 400,000 owners that it overstated the horsepower on their vehicles and is offering compensation through extended warranties and roadside assistance.
Hyundai's action affects 13 lines of cars and sport-utility vehicles sold from the 1996 through 2002 model years in which the company overstated the horsepower by 4 percent or more in advertising, brochures and product information distributed to the media.

Among the 400,000 vehicles are some of Hyundai's best-selling models, including the 2001-2002 Santa Fe SUV with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine or 2.7-liter V-6.

The company advertised that the 2.4-liter produced 149 horsepower, 8 percent more than the actual 138. On the 2.7-liter V-6, Hyundai claimed the horsepower was 181, 4.6 percent more than the actual 173.

The greatest discrepancy was on the 2-liter 4-cylinder engine used in the 1997-98 Sonata. Hyundai advertised it had 137 horsepower, 9.6 percent more than the actual figure of 125.

Hyundai discovered the discrepancies after the Canadian government questioned the horsepower on the Elantra, a compact car. Hyundai billed it as 140, but lowered the rating to 135 after re-evaluating the engine.

"I am very regretful for these errors and for any concerns it raises among Hyundai customers," Chief Executive Finbarr O'Neill said in a statement. "We are taking aggressive measures to prevent errors of this nature from happening again."

The company said the errors do not effect performance or reliability.

In some cases, the Korean-based automaker used horsepower figures obtained in preliminary tests; in others, adding the emissions equipment required in North America reduced the power ratings.

Hyundai overstated the horsepower on another 800,000 vehicles sold from 1992 to 2002 by less than 4 percent, which the company said was within normal manufacturing variances. Owners of those models are not being compensated.

Owners of affected vehicles from the 1999 model year and earlier will receive five years of free roadside assistance.

Owners of 2000 model year and newer vehicles will have three options: Extend their roadside assistance benefit to 10 years from five, extend the basic warranty to six years/72,000 miles from five years/60,000 miles or extend the powertrain warranty to 12 years/120,000 miles from 10 years/100,000 miles.

More information is available at or 800-218-9797.Kia, which is owned by Hyundai, will offer owners of 2001-2002 Optima sedans similar compensation. The Optima uses the same engines as the Sonata.

Hyundai is not alone in overstating horsepower. Jaguar recently touted its 2003 S-Type R as having 400 horsepower, but that was according to the European measurement. After using the U.S. standard set by the Society of Automotive Engineers, Jaguar reduced its horsepower claim to 388.

Mazda advertised that its 2001 Miata roadster produced 155 horsepower, 15 more than the 200 version, but later said it had only 142. Ford recalled the 1999 Mustang Cobra SVT after owners complained its V-8 engine produced less than the advertised 320 horsepower.


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(c) 2002, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.