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Did Hyundai Pull MPG Claims From Super Bowl Ad Due To Watchdog Group Pressure?


Hyundai has been targeted by Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit advocacy organization, over the automaker's 40 mpg fuel efficiency claim on the Hyundai Elantra. The group says Elantra owners have seen fuel economy averages of 18 and 19 mpg instead of the the 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway reported by Hyundai and the Environmental Protection Agency. As such, the group has sent letters to both Hyundai CEO John Krafcik and President Eok Jo Kim warning that if the automaker advertised the 40 mpg claim in the company's Super Bowl spots, Consumer Watchdog would release a retaliatory video of its own. The group has since followed through with that threat.

The Elantra spot scheduled to run during tonight's game, "Victory Lap," makes no mention of fuel economy whatsoever, focusing instead on the sedan's winning the 2012 North American Car of the Year award. When Hyundai previewed its first three Super Bowl spots on January 30, the automaker's official announcement indicated that this was the intent all along:

Finally, to round out the game-day lineup, Hyundai will celebrate its 2012 North American Car of the Year victory for Elantra with a new 30-second spot called "Victory Lap." The Elantra earned the prestigious award from a jury of 50 independent automotive media in early January.

Earlier today, we erroneously stated in this post that the ad running this evening was changed to not reflect the fuel economy numbers. Hyundai emphatically denies that any changes were made along the way.

In an email to Autoblog, Jim Trainor, Hyundai's senior group manager for product public relations, writes:

We never removed a fuel economy claim from our Elantra Super Bowl spot. It is, and always was, a focus on the North American Car of the Year award bestowed on Elantra. No group "made us" change our commercial and no outside group is going to dictate to us what the content of our commercials will be. The commercial you will see today is exactly how we meant it and exactly what it has been from the start.

Click past the jump for a look at the Elantra Super Bowl spot, the Consumer Watchdog clip about the vehicle's mileage claims and a press release from the non-profit.

In a related note, Popular Mechanics just-published real-world fuel economy test of two cars boasting 40 mpg EPA highway ratings is a very timely and interesting read. PM's test subjects?The Ford Focus SFE and the Hyundai Elantra.

Ultimately, when you get past all the noise, it's important to remember that "your mileage may vary" is a mantra for a reason.