Hyundai Smashes 2016 CAFE Target – In 2011

In the auto industry, Hyundai fits the overachiever bill nicely. The company’s lineup has been transformed from a lackluster group of vehicles to some of the top performing cars in their classes.

One snickered at, no one is doing that now. Now the race is on in the industry to produce fuel-efficient vehicles, ones that will help manufacturers hit tough Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements. They are being amped up, with car companies required to hit 36 mpg CAFE by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. Those numbers will undoubtedly be helped by higher numbers of hybrids, electrics and range-extended electric vehicles on the market.

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While everyone is scrambling to get ready for the 2016 milestone, Hyundai has quietly hit that goal in 2011 – five years early.

How is that for over-achieving? Hyundai’s lineup of efficient cars powered by four-cylinder engines (Sonata ditched a six, for instance) has helped it to hit the target. It’s important to note that CAFE figures are determined based on mileage estimates released by Environmental Protection Agency. Meaning, 36 mpg is far from the true average mileage of Hyundai’s 2011 fleet. Activist group Consumer Watchdog is petitioning the EPA over this, trying to get them to retest the Elantra.

They say the car isn’t capable of hitting its 29 city/40 mpg highway mark in real life driving. Hyundai says it is likely due to these people being urban drivers, and a vocal minority. Chief Executive officer John Krafcik commented on the situation, saying: “We’re not sure who the vocal people are, and who might be representing the vocal people, but we do know this: In a very large (sample) survey by J.D. Power of 2011 car buyers the Elantra got better real-world fuel economy than any other competitor.” To try to rectify the situation, dealers are reaching out to customers unhappy with mileage to give them efficiency tips.