Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas Inc. and its parent company are paying a $47-million civil penalty to settle federal allegations that the company sold construction vehicles that weren't certified to meet the appropriate Clean Air Act emissions standards, federal agencies say

According to a consent decree filed on Sept. 19 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Dept. of Justice and Environmental Protection Agencies alleged that Hyundai evaded new, tougher emissions standards for nitrogen oxides and particulates by importing and selling diesel-powered construction equipment it had “stockpiled” from 2012 to 2015.

DOJ and EPA allege that Hyundai violated the Clean Air Act by stockpiling construction equipment that met older, outdated emissions standards but not later, more stringent requirements.

In all, the federal agencies contend, Hyundai sold at least 2,269 units of non-complying diesel-powered construction equipment. The agreement doesn't specify what type of construction equipment was at issue.

The consent decree states that Hyundai does not admit any liability to the government stemming from the alleged actions.

Susan P. Bodine, EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, said in a statement, “By ignoring regulatory requirements, Hyundai not only gained a market advantage over their competitors, but they also introduced higher polluting vehicles into the United States, undermining the protection of human health and the environment.”

EPA said that a whistleblower’s tip in 2015 led to criminal and civil investigations of Hyundai. In the criminal probe, Hyundai on Nov. 14, 2018, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court to pay a $1.95-million criminal fine for allegedly conspiring to defraud the federal government and violating the Clean Air Act. [View 2018 ENR story here.]

In a 2017 corporate reorganization, the Hyundai Heavy Industries division that manufactured, distributed and imported heavy construction equipment was spun off into a new entity, named Hyundai Construction Equipment Co. Ltd., based in Seoul.

U.S.-based attorneys for Hyundai didn’t respond to an ENR request for comment.