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Honda sued over Civic Hybrid's failure to deliver 50mpg

A former lawyer from Los Angeles is taking Honda to small claims court because her Civic Hybrid is failing to deliver the 50mpg Honda claimed it would.

Many of us, at one time or another, have felt duped by car manufacturers' claimed fuel-economy figures, but one woman is fighting back.

Heather Peters, a former lawyer from Los Angeles, is taking Honda to small claims court because her Civic Hybrid is failing to deliver the 50mpg Honda claimed it would, the Daily Mail reports.

Ms Peters told a judge Honda knew the Civic Hybrid wouldn't achieve the claimed 50mpg. She argued that if the company had been frank with her, she wouldn't have purchased the car in the first place.

"The sales force said 50mpg, but they didn't say if you run your air conditioning and you remain in stop-and-go traffic, you're going to get 29 to 30 miles per gallon," she said. "If they did, I would have gotten the regular Civic."

Neil Schmidt, a technical expert for Honda, has called Ms Peters' $10,000 suit excessive. He also explained to the judge that the US federal government requires Honda to post the highest mileage the car could achieve.

In a statement, Honda also reminded the judge that its economy figures aren't set in stone. "The window sticker that was attached to her vehicle (as required by federal law) clearly indicated that her mileage would vary depending on driving conditions, options, vehicle condition and other factors," it said.

Ms Peters doesn't appear to be backing down, and for good reason -- this isn't the first time Honda has been taken to task for its Civic Hybrid economy claims. In 2007, 120,000 Civic Hybrid owners -- lead by plaintiffs John True and Gonzalo Delgado -- sued Honda for advertising economy figures that were lower than owners achieved in the real world. 

Ms Peters has launched a website, Don', which encourages Civic Hybrid owners to opt out of any Honda settlement.

Instead, Ms Peters' site encourages Civic Hybrid owners to sue Honda in small claims court, as doing so would guarantee them a larger payout. "I want people to know that small claims court is not so scary," she said. "It's a lot like Judge Judy."

Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan said there would be a ruling on Ms Peters' case this week.

Whose side are you on? Should Ms Peters have known the car's economy rating was theoretical, or should Honda and other automakers start posting more realistic economy figures? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

Image credit: CTV News