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Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, especially in California. Everywhere on the road these days you see Teslas, BMWs, and Nissans that run on electricity rather than gasoline. So you may have some questions about electric vehicle lemon law in California. Let’s take a closer look at the law and the state’s automotive trends.

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 is far and away the largest market for electric vehicles – it is home to 42% of all EVs registered nationwide. Florida and Texas are a distant second and third. It is expected that the EV market will grow exponentially in the next few years.

Does the Lemon Law Apply to Electric Cars?

Yes, the lemon law applies to electric cars. California, which has one of the most comprehensive lemon laws in the country, does cover electric cars, and EV lemon law claims have been filed in recent years. Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if you purchase a defective electric vehicle, you are 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 California law, and you must have made a reasonable number of attempts to have the vehicle repaired before filing a claim in court.

Generally, electric vehicles are believed to be safe. This doesn’t mean, however, that an individual electric car didn’t come off the assembly line with a defect. A recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report says that electric vehicles are at least as safe as conventional vehicles, and insurance data shows EV injury claims are substantially less frequent than for gas vehicles. 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 (#2) and the 2021 Volvo XC90 (#3).

Defects Common to Electric Vehicles

1. ELECTRIC BATTERIES ARE SOMETIMES TEMPERAMENTAL.

The large lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles can be defective. Unlike batteries in gasoline-powered vehicles, the large and sophisticated battery in an EV is very expensive. When it has a defect, it’s a big problem. These batteries are also very sensitive to extreme heat and cold. Heat causes a battery to degrade prematurely, and cold can significantly curtail the range of the battery.

2. ELECTRIC VEHICLES CAN CATCH FIRE.

Just how often or how severe the EV fires are is now being studied by the auto industry. Consider these recent recalls by EV manufacturers due to concerns over lithium-ion batteries:

  • General Motors has recalled all 142,000 of the two Chevy Bolt models sold since 2017, because the EVs could catch fire.
  • Hyundai expanded a similar callback covering about 90,000 of its Kona EVs.
  • Ford recalled more than 20,000 plug-in hybrids in Europe because they could overheat and catch fire.
  • Tesla products have been linked to several fires.

Clearly, there are some manufacturing defects or design abnormalities within these EV batteries that are making them prone to fires. In 2021, GM ordered new battery packs that, according to the company, resolve a series of manufacturing defects, though the long-term success of these newer batteries remains unclear.

Battery fires appear to fall into two categories:

  • Some fires are ignited by a crash that damages and shorts out the battery pack, setting individual cells ablaze.
  • Other fires appear to have occurred while EVs were parked and, in some cases, while inside a garage and/or hooked up to a charger.

3. HIGH-TECH NAVIGATION SYSTEMS SOMETIMES FAIL.

More expensive EVs often have sophisticated navigation systems that are very 21st Century. While these can provide a great deal of driver satisfaction, they can also result in a huge headache if the navigation system is defective.

Statistics About Lemon Laws and Electric Cars

CASE LAW IS DEVELOPING AROUND ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND LEMON LAW.

Because electric vehicles are such a recently launched product, case law is currently developing around electric vehicle lemon law nationwide. Let’s take a closer look at recent cases …

TESLA

Tesla is one of the most well-known and prestigious electric vehicles on the road today. It is the fastest-growing auto brand worldwide and the leading electric vehicle brand. Tesla’s vehicle deliveries reached nearly 500,000 in 2020.

One of the early Tesla electric vehicle lemon law claims in California was filed in 2016 by the owner of a $162,000 Tesla Model X, saying the car exhibited “weird” behavior. The high-profile lawsuit was filed in Placer County Court in Roseville, CA. The plaintiff claimed the vehicle’s electronically actuated, dual-hinged falcon wing doors slammed shut on his leg and caused property damage when they malfunctioned. The plaintiff also alleged that the Tesla auto pilot was dangerous in the rain; the touch navigation screen froze repeatedly; and the auto park feature was defective, among other things. The owner, Barrett Lyon, even made a video to help prove his point. Video Link: https://youtu.be/pYJqej_ER2E Ultimately, Tesla took back the vehicle and settled out of court.

A 2014 Tesla lemon law claim in Wisconsin alleging technical defects in a Tesla Model S resulted in a $126,836 settlement. The vehicle reportedly spent 66 days in the repair shop in the first 6 months of ownership. Before settling the case out of court, Tesla loudly criticized the vehicle owner in the company’s blog.

OTHER ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS

There are now many manufacturers of EVs, from economy cars to luxury SUVs. 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

The attorneys at Neale & Fhima will aggressively represent you in an EV lemon law claim, and we are committed to success in every one of these cases.

Is Your Electric Car a Lemon?

A “lemon” is a car, truck, utility vehicle, SUV, or other EV type that is defective. Whether the problem started immediately when you drove the EV off the dealership lot or it began many months or even years later, the defect is chronic, and mechanics can’t seem to fix it. From sound systems that don’t work to defective batteries to malfunctioning navigation systems, there are many types of mechanical and electrical problems that can render an electric vehicle defective. These vehicles have spent too much time at the repair shop and not enough time on the road.

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 manufacturer’s original 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.

Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.

Choosing the Best Electric Vehicle Lemon Law Lawyer

OUR ATTORNEYS STAND HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE REST.

We know that there are a lot of lemon law attorneys in California to choose from, but we believe our legal team stands head and shoulders above the rest. That’s because we have an outstanding pattern of success in handling lemon law claims for our clients! Testimonials from happy clients speak to our winning track record. Our attorneys are among the best and the brightest.

Here are 3 good reasons you should choose us:

  1. WE 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.
  2. 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, though, 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.
  3. AVOID SURPRISES. A handful of manufacturers control most of the U.S. vehicle 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 lawyers will share how these insights can impact your claim, so you are never in the dark about what to expect.

What You Need to Prove to Win a Case

YOU MUST SHOW “NONCONFORMITIES” AND A REASONABLE NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS TO REPAIR.

The process starts by filing a legal claim against the electric vehicle manufacturer. Our attorneys can do this for you. We expect resistance, because auto manufacturers work hard to defeat lemon law claims and reduce financial payouts. But our lemon law lawyers are aggressive and know how to win. We are not intimidated by the manufacturers’ lawyers, and we are determined to secure the best possible outcome for you. To prevail in an electric vehicle lemon law claim, you will have to:

  1. show that the defect compromises the use, value or safety of your vehicle
  2. make “reasonable attempts” to have a dealership repair the defect.

That’s why it’s important that you have proof of your attempts to have the vehicle fixed — keep all receipts, work orders and used parts from each of your repair appointments.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON ELECTRIC VEHICLE LEMON LAW CLAIMS

The statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law is four years. If you have purchased or leased a lemon, start collecting copies of your repair bills and receipts and call a California lemon law attorney now.

Your Choices After You Win Your Lemon Law Case

YOU CAN PURSUE A LEMON LAW BUYBACK OR CHOOSE ANOTHER REMEDY.

A successful EV lemon law claim puts you in the driver’s seat because you can select the type of compensation you want. Here are the two primary remedies:

Option A: Repurchase

The manufacturer will take possession of the EV 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 EV, the manufacturer will refund the payments and 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 EV 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 EV, 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, Neale & Fhima may be able to negotiate an additional option called a “cash and keep.” This would allow you to retain possession of the EV and receive a cash payment to compensate for the defect.

Talk to a Skilled Lemon Law Attorney Today

If you’re frustrated because you’ve purchased or leased a lemon electric vehicle, take action! The California lemon law may provide a legal remedy. The lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima consistently win these cases, helping clients secure a replacement vehicle or complete a lemon law buyback. Don’t get stuck with a lemon. Call Neale & Fhima today at 888-407-2955 to find out how we can help. The initial phone call is free.

Attorney Aaron Fhima

Aaron Fhima is a trial attorney who has secured numerous settlements and verdicts against large corporations and some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. Representing consumers and injury victims throughout the state of California, Aaron’s practice areas include personal injury, and lemon law litigation. Aaron has a long record of success taking on large defense firms; and he doesn’t hesitate to take cases to trial when necessary to enforce his clients’ rights. [ Attorney Bio ]