Monday, January 5, 2015

Improper data reporting leads to big EPA fines for Kia/Hyundai

On November 3, 2014, Hyundai and Kia were fined a record-setting $300 million dollar for violating the Clean Air Act. They were fined for cooking their data and misreporting their fuel economy, using the unethical techniques described below by representatives for the federal government:
""One was the use of, not the average data from the tests, but the best data. Two, was testing the cars at the temperature where their fuel economy is best. Three -- using the wrong tire sizes; and four, testing them with a tail wind but then not turning around in the other direction and testing them with a head wind. So I think that speaks to the kinds problems that we saw with Hyundai and Kia that resulted in the mismeasurement." Video and quote from Sam Hirsch, acting assistant attorney general. 

 Here is EPA's press release about the fine.This example demonstrates how organizations can use very selective data collection techniques in order to gain favorable results. I think that the explanation above is pretty easy to follow and could open up discussion about data collection/research method ethics, whether or not the government should trust private organizations to report their own consumer data. This also describes how statistics and data are used to protect the environment, and how something as relatively straight forward as statistical mean (here, for MPG) can be manipulated and lead to this big law suit. For more on the point about means, scroll down to the Hyundai/Kia data on how the mileage had to be changed to reflect reality. 

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