(CN) – Toyota’s 2006-2009 Prius hybrids have defective High-Intensity Discharge headlights that shut off “at random intervals,” according to a class action in Manhattan Federal Court. The class claims that “Toyota is aware of the problems with the HID System” and sent letters to Prius owners in January in which it “admitted it had received numerous complaints about HID System failures but attempted to blame the HID System failures on normal bulb outages.”
The complaint continues: “Toyota’s pattern and practice of withholding information about defects or failing to properly analyze and fix major safety defects has now become highly public.
“Prius drivers suddenly lose illumination from one or both headlights while driving, but this is not the result of bulbs simply burning out over time, as Toyota would have customers believe. This is evident from Prius drivers reporting that their HID headlights that stop working will suddenly begin functioning again without bulb replacement. Similarly, those persons that have had bulb replacement often, soon thereafter, experience bulb failure.”
Named plaintiff Elliot Fixler adds, “Because Toyota refuses to inform its customers about the true nature of this defect, Prius drivers continue to drive under dangerous conditions – sometimes unaware that their HID headlights could both go out regardless of whether the lamps were recently inspected by a dealer or the headlights were replaced.”
The class claims that even replaced the Electronic Control Unit of the HID system does not fix the defect. It claims that Toyota merely installs “replacement parts that suffer from the same HID System defect as the original parts.”
And it claims that Toyota profits from the defect by selling replacement bulb, and that its January letter “appears to offer reimbursement only for the difference between the suggested retail price and a new reduced retail price for bulbs, and it capped at $150 per bulb,” without labor costs, or costs for more problems from the defective system.
Fixler seeks class damages for consumer law violations, and claims that Toyota’s conduct “included deception, fraud, false pretenses, and the knowing concealment, suppression, or omission of material facts”.
The putative class is represented by J. Douglas Richards with Cohen Milstein & Sellers of Manhattan.