Lemon Law Attorneys Blog
Yes, Electric Vehicles Can Be Lemons
June 24, 2021 by Tim Whelan
With advances in zero-emission, hybrid, and electric battery technology, automotive consumers have flocked to buying the newest Range Extended Electric (REEV) and Battery Electric (BEV or EV) Vehicles. However, progress in automotive technology doesn’t mean the latest and greatest offerings are defect free. In fact, Elon Musk recently admitted that Tesla has had quality problems, especially in newer models.
Fortunately, as the major automotive manufacturers sell these next generation electric cars, trucks, and SUVs, they continue to provide warranties guaranteeing they’ll fix problems with the vehicle for a certain number of years and a certain number of miles. This means that if their dealerships can’t repair problems with the vehicle, and it ends up being a lemon, state and federal lemon laws still apply.
New Technology Means New Problems
In the same interview, Musk echoed the common-sense advice that it might not be a good idea to buy a vehicle during the model’s ramp-up period. That’s because until an electric vehicle hits the road, manufacturers don’t completely know what the quality control issues with different components or parts will be. So, while auto dealers might throw around technical slang to sell these new “HPEV” vehicles its often the newer applications of technology that force the consumer back to the dealership for multiple repair visits.
It’s Not Us, It’s You
Be aware that buyers of electric vehicles will sometimes complain to a servicing dealership/facility that their vehicle won’t charge, or hold a charge, only to be told it’s the consumers charging station at home or driving habits that are the problem. Before purchasing an electric vehicle, a consumer should always make sure that they have adequate voltage and plugs for charging their vehicle as required by the manufacturer’s specifications.
If your system is up to spec and the vehicle won’t properly charge at home or at public charging stations (i.e., malls, government buildings, etc.) don’t let the dealer blame it on you. Electric vehicles also come with an implied warranty that provides that an automobile will work as expected. An electric automobile when charged should still drive like a normal car, so if a dealership is trying to blame charging or lack of power problems on you contact a lemon law attorney for advice on what to do.
You Don’t Have to Wait Forever for Replacement Parts
One issue with new model electric vehicles is the availability of replacement parts, especially the intricate technical parts of the EV battery and charging systems. Fortunately, many state lemon laws require manufacturers to have these replacement parts readily available. For instance, California’s Lemon Law, The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, requires by law that manufacturers keep sufficient replacement parts available for dealerships to do repairs that are needed under warranty. (See California Civil Code Section 1793.3)
If a dealership or service facility has had your electric vehicle for multiple months waiting on a replacement part, you shouldn’t just accept this is part of owning an electric automobile.
The Same Rules Regarding Lemon Laws Apply
Given the above, it’s no wonder that lemon law attorneys have seen an uptick in cases dealing specifically with electric vehicles. Complaints about these vehicles losing power, failing to charge, or having other electrical system failures (i.e., radio, navigation, etc.) are on an uptick. These claims will only increase as more and more electric cars, trucks, and SUVs hit the road.
The good news is that federal and state lemon laws still apply to electric vehicles. These lemon laws require a warrantor to repair vehicles within a reasonable amount of time. This can be as few as two or three repair attempts.
If you have had to take your electric vehicle to the dealership for repairs for the same issue multiple times, contact a lemon law attorney for advice on what to do.
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