By Rishi Iyengar
November 4, 2014

Hyundai and Kia have been slapped with a fine of $100 million, along with carbon credit forfeitures valued at more than $200 million, for understating the carbon emissions of several car models.

Actual figures total about 4.75 million metric tons in excess of the emission levels the two Korean automakers reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to the settlement outlined by officials from the agency and the Department of Justice on Monday.

According to settlement documents, incorrect emissions impacting over 1 million vehicles across multiple models — Hyundai’s Accent, Elantra, Veloster and Santa Fe as well as Kia’s Rio and Soul — are in violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act. The violations, found in the models released in 2012 and 2013, were discovered during a 2012 EPA audit, and both companies restated their fuel economy ratings in November 2012.

EPA official Gina McCarthy announced the settlement in a joint press conference with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Washington Post reported. “This settlement upholds the integrity of the nation’s fuel economy and greenhouse-gas programs and supports all Americans who want to save fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact,” McCarthy said.

David Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement that Hyundai had given the EPA its full cooperation and transparency during the investigation and had reimbursed the affected customers. “We are pleased to put this behind us, and gratified that even with our adjusted fuel economy ratings, Hyundai continues to lead the automotive industry in fuel efficiency and environmental performance” Zuchowski said.

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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