THIS CASE IS NOT ABOUT THE WINDOW STICKER! Honda has defended this case by presenting a giant blow-up of the window sticker (with small print that is still hard to read) and simply stating that Honda has no choice” but to use the EPA figures. “We have to put these numbers on the label,” argued technical specialist Neil Schmidt. "Not so, countered an EPA spokesman, who said that federal mileage testing provides only the maximum number a maker may quote. If a vehicle is more likely to deliver 35 in real-world conditions an automaker has the right to go with that figure, though sticking with an EPA-sanctioned 40 MPG is more likely to catch a consumer’s eye." As MSNBC has reported in Lies, Damned Lies and Fuel Economy Numbers. See also, 40 C.F.R. Sec. 600.210-08.
THIS CASE IS ABOUT HONDA'S SOFTWARE UPDATE THAT DECEPTIVELY REDUCED THE MPG IN 2010:
Even if Honda's advertising was totally honest at the point of sale (which it was not), last year Honda tricked Civic Hybrid owners into doing an irreversible software update. The letter said that the update would "help prevent early IMA battery deterioration". This sounded great, but Honda didn't tell us that it would do this by reprogramming the engine to use more gas and would drastically reduce MPG. Owners like Ms. Peters report that they get less than 30 MPG since the update, practically half the 50 MPG advertised. A Honda Certified Technician confirmed this at trial.
THIS CASE IS ALSO ABOUT HONDA'S LIES IN ITS BROCHURE. Among other things the brochure said the 2006 Civic Hybrid would use "amazingly little fuel" and would "save plenty of money on fuel - with up to 50 mpg during city driving." It quoted The EPA number of 50 MPG for both city and highway. It bragged about the hybrid system's performance as "adding extra power when needed, such as during acceleration. It works seamlessly and automatically, so it feels just like a normal, responsive Civic." "Just enjoy driving the Civic Hybrid like you would a conventional gasoline-engine vehicle." It "provides plenty of horsepower while still sipping fuel." Yet at trial, Honda defended the case by blaming the driver: "the biggest effect is how you drive" and emphasized that using the air conditioning in stop and go traffic will be a problem. Ms. Peters countered that if she had been told that she would not have paid a premium for hybrid that could never get 50 MPG in Los Angeles.
HONDA KNEW IT WAS FALSELY ADVERTISING THE HYBRID. Honda was actively engaged in the EPA's review of its MPG testing methods long before Ms. Peters was sold her hybrid. After a great deal of deliberation and interaction with car manufacturers the EPA issued a draft report in January of 2006 titled "Fuel Economy Labeling of Motor Vehicles: Revisions to Improve Calculation of Fuel Economy Estimates." This report detailed testing results for the Honda Civic Hybrid and found that real world MPG was significantly lower than the sticker and that the car was more sensitive to operating conditions than conventional vehicles "which can either take full advantage of the hybrid technology or essentially nullify it."
William Willen from Honda's Product Regulatory Office (the same guy who approves Honda's national advertising) wrote a letter dated April 3, 2006 to the EPA praising this report as a "credible analysis" and stating "Honda strongly supports the need for consumers to be provided with the most accurate information possible on fuel economy performance." Additionally, in 2005, a year before Ms. Peters was sold her Civic Hybrid Honda had already been sued for the exact same false advertising Paduano v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., a case that Honda later settled for $50,000, plus another $50,000 in attorneys' fees!