- June 27, 2022
- Categories: Electric Vehicle Lemon Law
Electric cars are certainly all the rage these days as gas prices soar and consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment. Whether you choose a flashy Tesla or a more economical EV model, electric cars provide an alternative to gas-combustion vehicles. But you may be wondering, “What are the biggest problems with electric cars?” Let’s take a closer look.
Generally, research shows that EVs are as safe as their gas-powered companions, but EVs can have reliability problems and manufacturer defects that are unique. Consumer Reports recently issued a study saying that electric SUVs are the least reliable vehicles on the road. Electric vehicles have significantly higher defective rates than internal-combustion vehicles across model years 2019 and 2020, according to the study.
Problems cited by Consumer Reports include:
- In-car electronics
- Climate systems
- Noises and leaks
- Drive systems
- Power equipment
- Body hardware
- Paint and trim.
Electric cars have also been known to experience:
- Battery fires
- Navigation system problems.
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) generated a study showing that the frequency of injury claims by drivers and passengers of EVs was more than 40% lower than for identical combustion-engine models during the eight years between 2011-2019. So, EVs do not increase your chances of being injured in a traffic accident. But because EVs as a group are so new, manufacturers are still working out the kinks in design and assembly, and defects are somewhat common. There are definitely electric vehicles on the road that are lemons.
EV owners have experienced chronic problems with the display screens, exterior door lights, failing temperature sensors, mismatched paint, and seals and weatherstripping. It’s not just that these problems occur, but that they occur at a higher rate than with conventional vehicles.
Do electric cars have a lot of problems? What about engine fires?
There have been well-publicized reports of EV batteries catching fire. According to Kia, which manufactures EVs, the lithium-ion batteries in electric cars are combustible and can catch fire. That’s because the battery has power cells that can short-circuit if it is damaged. However, lithium-ion batteries have a much lower risk of catching fire than gasoline in conventional vehicles, Kia says. To prevent external damage or short circuit, electric car batteries are typically surrounded by a protective cooling shroud filled with coolant liquid. When EVs do catch fire, they tend to burn longer and hotter because the lithium-ion batteries supercharge the blaze.
Does the California lemon law apply to electric cars?
Yes, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (also known as the Lemon Law) protects owners of electric cars if they discover their vehicle is defective. If you purchase a defective EV, you are legally entitled to a refund, or the vehicle can be replaced at the manufacturer’s expense. However, you must prove that it’s a lemon according to state guidelines, and you must have made a reasonable number of attempts to have the vehicle repaired before filing a legal claim.
The Lemon Law in California states that your EV must have “nonconformities,” which are defined as any defect or malfunction that is covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty. Nonconformities significantly restrict the safety, use or value of the vehicle. There are many defects that could affect the vehicle’s safety, but there is no requirement under the law that the defect actually endangers you.
Common defects that affect safety include:
- Engine issues
- Steering issues
- Poor acceleration
- Braking problems (not just squeaking)
- Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
- Electrical issues
- Defective navigation system
- Door locks don’t work
- Transmission issues.
If your electric car has chronic defects that never seem to get fixed no matter how many times you take it to the repair shop, you may be entitled to a legal remedy under the California lemon law.
What are the issues with electric cars?
Electric cars can also pose other challenges. For example, EVs are expensive compared to gas-powered cars. The average price paid for a new EV in the U.S. is nearly $60,000, significantly higher than gasoline-equivalent vehicles, according to Kelley Blue Book. Most pure electric vehicles (not hybrids) tend to be higher-end, luxury vehicles, which can have eye-popping sticker prices. California has a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goal of 1.5 million vehicles by 2025, and electric car sales are rapidly on the rise. Nearly 1.8 million EVs were registered in the U.S. in 2020. Consumers looking at EVs are confronted with these issues:
High sticker price
Electric vehicles are still more expensive to buy than their gas-powered counterparts. While more and more manufacturers are launching EV models, they tend to be higher end.
Lack of inventory
If you want to buy a Tesla in the U.S., you’ll have to get on a waiting list. Other manufacturers are also having trouble keeping up with EV demand, particularly given the 2022 global supply chain delays. So buyers should be prepared to wait a few months in some cases before receiving delivery of their newly purchased electric cars.
Scarcity of recharging stations
The U.S. does not yet have a fully implemented recharging station infrastructure for electric vehicles, particularly in rural areas. Unlike the gas stations on every corner, electric recharging stations are still being planned and built. Also, people who live in apartment buildings or condos typically don’t have access to at-home charging facilities.
Expense of replacing lithium-ion battery
The huge lithium-ion battery that propels electric vehicles is not only heavy (weighing about 1,000 lbs.), but it is also expensive. Buying a new EV battery costs thousands of dollars – from $5,500 for a new Nissan Leaf battery to $16,000 for a new Chevy Bolt battery and more. Fortunately, most EV batteries are under manufacturer warranty for at least 8 years/100,000 miles, and sometimes individual battery cells can be replaced or refurbished rather than having to buy an entire new battery. But still, this is a significant expense.
Limited driving distance (without recharging)
On average, EVs can travel about 250 miles before needing to be recharged. A Tesla can be driven 350 miles on a single charge. Driving distance is definitely an issue with EVs. While innovation continues to increase the distance an EV can go on one charge, more improvement is needed.
Lemon Law Remedies
If you win your lemon law claim, you can choose a legal remedy. These include:
You can compel the manufacturer to repurchase your vehicle, including taxes and registration fees. If you financed the vehicle, the manufacturer will refund the payments and down payment, and pay off the loan.
You can compel the manufacturer to replace your vehicle with a similar make and model and take possession of the lemon. The manufacturer will pay the registration and taxes on the new vehicle, but you will not receive a refund of fees or finance charges paid on the original vehicle.
Choose Neale & Fhima to represent you
Electric cars are fun and are definitely the wave of the future. If, however, you purchased an EV that has chronic defects, then you’re probably frustrated and at your wit’s end. The lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima may offer a legal solution. We’ve represented thousands of clients in lemon law cases and have an outstanding 99% success rate with these claims. You can read what our satisfied clients have to say. To find out more about how we can help, call us at 888-407-2955.