The Honda hybrid lawsuit saga ends

Honda won an appeal to overturn a $10,000 small-claims court award over the fuel economy of the Civic Hybrid.

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Honda

Regardless of the actual mileage Heather Peters achieved with her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, the automaker did not misstate its fuel economy estimates, ruled a California judge today. Based on that decision, Honda won its appeal to overturn a $9,867 award granted to Peters in small-claims court.

The 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid is advertised to achieve up to 50 mpg in the city. However, due to faulty batteries many drivers argue that the vehicle gets closer to 30 mpg. Peters opted out of a class-action lawsuit against Honda that granted dissatisfied customers up to $200 in cash compensation -- a small sum compared to the $8.5 million in fees that the lawyers will receive. Instead, she sued the automaker last year in small-claims court, and in February was awarded nearly $10,000 in damages when a judge decided Honda falsely advertised the vehicle's fuel economy.

However, that award was overturned in appeals court because a judge decided that federal regulations and the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) are responsible for determining fuel economy, not the automaker. Therefore, Honda did not misrepresent the Civic Hybrid's gas mileage.

That decision should make auto manufacturers breathe a little easier, since actual fuel economy numbers can vary widely based on a number of factors, including weather, terrain, and driving style. The EPA revised its test cycles in 2008 to reflect modern driving conditions and patterns. However, that change was two years too late to help Peters adjust her expectations. The 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is advertised to achieve up to 44 mpg in the city.

(Source: Associated Press)

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