Honda Civic Hybrid Lawsuit ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Honda Civic Hybrid Lawsuit

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Honda Civic Hybrid Lawsuit

In an update to the lawsuit over mileage figures against Honda, it seems a settlement has been reached. But, 26 state Attorney Generals (AG) are objecting to the settlement.

John True of Ontario, Calif. sued Honda over what he called their inflated mpg figures. After just 6,000 miles of driving, True sued Honda saying he was unable to achieve the 48 mpg city/51 mpg highway figures Honda was using. Instead, he was only able to get 32 mpg in mixed driving.

The mpg figures come from the EPA, and are the only figures Honda is allowed to use in their advertising by law. Which to me says this is a ridiculous lawsuit and it was completely foolish for it to get this far...

If anyone out there doesn't realize that the EPA mpg figure 'will vary,' then they didn't read the label on the car (which clearly states just that!). It's a guideline people use to evaluate the different cars. Unless you drive your vehicle as they do in the lab at a certain speed for so far, then at a different speed for so long (and so on...) then you should know your mileage will vary from the stated figure.

The Settlement
But, that being said, True and one other driver, continued the lawsuit as a class action suit. The 2007 lawsuit worked its way through and Honda worked out a settlement.

The settlement covers 158,639 people who owned or leased a 2003-2008 Honda Civic Hybrid. (Why stop at 2008? The EPA changed the way they calculated mileage figures... again, not Honda who changed the rules, but the government).

As per the settlement, Honda will:

  • Send current and former Civic Hybrid owners a DVD on improving fuel economy.
  • Will offer $1,000 rebate if they want to trade their Civic Hybrid in on certain vehicles.
  • If they no longer own the vehicle, they can get $500 coupon/rebate for a trade-in instead.
  • Or, if they don't want to trade their vehicle in, they can get $100 if they have previously complained.
  • Also, Honda will change their advertisement for two years, saying that "mileage will vary," not "mileage may vary."
  • True, and the other litigant, will split $22,500.
State Attorney Generals Step In
26 state AGs are objecting to the 2007 class action lawsuit against Honda.

AG complaints:
  • List of vehicles eligible for the rebate do not include Fit, Insight, Civic Hybrid or Honda CRZ.
  • Lawyers will receive $2.95 million in legal fees, in comparison to the $100 most will receive.
  • It does nothing to keep Honda from making the same sort of claims in the future
Honda estimates less than 600 could even go for the $100.

Objecting attorneys general include Michigan, California, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

Which is all good and wonderful, but the lawsuit never should have gotten this far.  Who doesn't know the EPA figures are not the ones you will get?  Had True (et. al.) ever driven a car before?  Is the label not clearly marked?  Didn't Honda follow the federal laws? 

What's worse, some people can get the mileage claimed by the EPA in mixed driving.  Some get much better mileage than the EPA claims (See hypermilers).

This sort of lawsuit is just depressing.  And to have it come down to a settlement instead of just being thrown out is even worse.

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