- November 16, 2021
- Categories: Lemon Law
If you’re wondering how safe are electric cars, you’re not alone. A record number of people are snapping up Teslas and other electric vehicles, and EVs are among the most popular cars on the road today. But some owners want to know if EVs are as safe as their internal combustion engine counterparts. The short answer is yes, but let’s take a closer look.
A recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report says that EVs are at least as safe as conventional vehicles, and insurance data shows EV injury claims are substantially less frequent than for gas vehicles. In fact, the new 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge (small SUV) attained a Top Safety Pick+ designation, the highest IIHS award. Coming in right behind it was the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E (midsize SUV), which achieved the slightly less prestigious Top Safety Pick. Audi EVs and Tesla, the leading electric vehicle manufacturer, have also won IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ ratings for some of their models. Several plug-in hybrid cars and trucks have won safety awards, too.
Kelley Blue Book echoed the praise for safety among EVs in its list of Best Safety Rated Electric Cars of 2021. Coming in at #1 on the list is the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV, followed by the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek EV at #2 and the 2021 Volvo XC90 at #3.
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), affiliated with the IIHS, generated a study showing that the frequency of injury claims by drivers and passengers of EVs was more than 40% lower than for identical conventional models during the eight years between 2011-2019.
So, increasing data shows that electric cars are just as safe as gasoline-powered cars. However, that doesn’t mean that EVs aren’t just as susceptible to defects as are combustion vehicles. There are EV lemons out there on the road. Fortunately, California Lemon Law covers electric vehicles, too. If you’ve bought an EV that keeps breaking down, talk to a California lemon law lawyer to find out your legal rights. You can also read more here about What To Do If You Have a Lemon.
California Lemon Law and Electric Cars
California has a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goal of 1.5 million vehicles by 2025, so the number of electric vehicles being sold statewide is rapidly on the rise. As of 2020, nearly 1.8 million EVs were registered in the U.S., more than three times the number in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). A recent Pew Research Center survey, shows that 7% of American adults said they now have an electric or hybrid vehicle, and 39% of these adults said they were somewhat or very likely to consider buying an electric vehicle the next time they purchase a car, truck or SUV.
California, which has one of the most consumer-friendly lemon laws in the nation, does cover electric cars, and EV lemon law claims have been filed. Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if you purchase a defective electric vehicle, 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 legal guidelines, and you must have made a reasonable number of attempts to have the vehicle repaired before filing a claim in court.
There are an increasing number of manufacturers that make electric vehicles, from sub-compacts to expensive luxury cars. Some of these are:
- Audi e-tron 50 & 55
- BMW i3
- Chevrolet Bolt EV
- Ford Focus Electric and Mustang Mach-E
- Honda Clarity Electric
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric & Kona Electric
- Kia Soul EV & e-Niro
- Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric & EQC
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV
- Nissan Leaf
- Porsche Taycan
- Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y
- Volkswagen e-up!, ID.4 and ID.3
Pros: How Are Electric Cars Safer Than Gas Cars?
Why are electric cars safer than traditionally manufactured vehicles?
There are a few reasons why electric vehicles may cause you to feel safer than driving a conventional vehicle. Some of these include:
- The rate of injury claims by EV drivers is roughly 40% less than claims by conventional vehicle drivers. According to IIHS president David Harkey, the likely reason is that EVs weigh a lot more than other vehicles and fair better in collisions.
- Batteries in EVs are located low in the vehicle, dropping the center of gravity and reducing the likelihood of rollover, according to DesignNews.
- Because there is no gasoline (a volatile liquid), it’s less likely that EVs will erupt in a fire upon collision.
Cons: Are electric cars dangerous to your health?
Why are electric cars dangerous?
As stated above, there’s no evidence that electric cars are dangerous – at least, not any more so than conventional vehicles. However, a driver may feel more vulnerable in an EV for a few reasons:
- If you break down in an electric vehicle, especially in a remote area, there’s no guarantee that a local mechanic has the knowledge or equipment to repair an EV.
- For long-haul drives, there may be a scarcity of electric plug-in recharging stations, especially in less populated areas.
- Electric cars can turn out to be lemons just like conventional vehicles can.
If your EV does break down repeatedly, or if you having repeated problems with your EV and you’re wondering if you have a lemon law claim, here’s a list of common safety defects that result in lemon law cases.
Are Electric Cars More Likely to Catch Fire?
According to Kia, which manufactures electric vehicles, the lithium-ion batteries in EVs are combustible and can catch fire. That’s because it 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, EV batteries are typically surrounded by a protective cooling shroud filled with coolant liquid. However, when EVs do catch fire, they tend to burn longer and hotter because the lithium-ion batteries supercharge the blaze, some experts say.
How to Determine If Your Vehicle Is a Lemon
A “lemon” is a car, truck, utility vehicle, SUV, motorcycle, RV, travel trailer or other vehicle type that is defective. Whether the problem started immediately when you drove the vehicle off the dealership lot or it began many months or even years later, the defect is persistent, and mechanics can’t seem to fix it. From radio’s that don’t work to a battery that can’t hold a charge, there are many types of mechanical and electrical problems that can render a vehicle defective. These vehicles have spent too much time at the repair shop and not enough time on the road. To determine whether you have a lemon law claim, talk to our electric car lemon law lawyer. Before being eligible to file a claim, you need to have made a “reasonable number of attempts” to get your new vehicle repaired. While the law is somewhat vague about how many trips to the mechanic constitute a “reasonable number” of repair attempts, you need to give the dealership a sincere opportunity to fix it first before commencing legal action.
A vehicle is a lemon when it has “nonconformities,” which are defined as any defect or malfunction that is covered by the 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:
- Poor acceleration
- Radio and navigation problems
- Doors and/or windows opening and closing unexpectedly
- Air conditioning problems
- Noise complaints
- Braking problems (not just squeaking)
- Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
- Battery dies regularly, or drains irregularly
- Steering issues
- Finishing defects
If you are experiencing any of these problems, you may have a lemon law claim.
What About California’s Lemon Law and Used Cars?
Some used cars are covered under California’s Lemon Law, but not all. Lemon Law protections for used cars are somewhat different than for new cars, so the best way to find out if your used car qualifies is to talk to a California lemon law lawyer. They can assess your unique situation and advise you about whether you can file a claim and the chances of being successful. Rest assured, the used car lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima will fight hard for you, too.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing an Electric Car Lemon Law Claim?
Yes. The statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law may be four years from the date of purchase or can be four years from the date the consumer knew the vehicle was a “lemon” or should have known it was a “lemon.” Generally, the sooner you file, the better. If you have purchased or leased an electric car that is a lemon, start collecting copies of your repair bills and call our electric car lemon law attorney right away. The longer you wait, the more frustrated you will become.
Why Should I Choose Neale & Fhima?
We know that there are a lot of lemon law lawyers in California to choose from, but we believe Neale & Fhima stands head and shoulders above the rest. That’s because we have an outstanding record of success in handling lemon law claims for our clients! We have a winning track record, and our attorneys are among the best and the brightest. The team at Neale & Fhima is committed to each client’s case, and we give you our full attention. We have received outstanding client testimonials.
Here are a few of the reasons you should choose us:
- Years of Experience. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients throughout Southern California.
- Our Lawyers Win Cases. Neale & Fhima enjoys a 99% success rate. We think this says a lot about the skill of our attorneys. While we cannot guarantee the outcome of any particular case, you can take comfort in knowing your claim is being handled by lemon law lawyers who have a track record of success.
- We Value Client Relationships. High-volume law offices tend to think of clients as nothing more than a case file. The file gets passed around until it ends up with a paralegal or junior associate who just wants to finish it and move on. Neale & Fhima is different. We enjoy getting to know our clients. It also helps us craft settlement agreements that meet their individual needs.
- We Know the Law. California’s lemon law is a fine example of how the state legislature can empower consumers. When it comes to clarity, however, the text of the statute leaves much to be desired. Our attorneys understand the quirks of the statute, as well as the many court opinions interpreting it. We put this knowledge to work for you.
- No Surprises. A handful of manufacturers control most of the U.S. auto market. We repeatedly go up against these same companies. This allows us to anticipate how they will respond to claims involving specific models and mechanical defects. Our attorneys will share these insights with you from day one, so you are never in the dark about what to expect.
- Free Consultations. We will always discuss your situation with you in a free initial consultation before you make any decisions about a claim.
Which Lemon Law Remedy? The Choice is Yours.
A successful electric car lemon law claim puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes time to select the form of compensation. Here are the two primary remedies:
Option A: Repurchase
The manufacturer will take possession of the vehicle and issue you a refund of the purchase price (reduced by the value of your use of the vehicle prior to the first repair attempt). If you financed the vehicle, the manufacturer will refund the payments, down payment, and pay off the loan. You will also receive a refund of registration fees, taxes, etc.
Option B: Replacement
The manufacturer will take possession of the vehicle and provide you with a new one. It must be an identical or substantially similar vehicle. 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. This option requires the consent of both parties.
In some circumstances, we may be able to negotiate an additional option called a “cash and keep.” This would allow you to retain possession of the vehicle and receive a cash payment to compensate for the defect.
Contact an Electric Vehicle Lemon Law Lawyer Today
If you have purchased a lemon electric vehicle, don’t despair. There may be a legal remedy under California lemon law. The lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima have a 99% success rate, which means we have lots of satisfied clients! To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free consultation at 888-407-2955.