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Weak BMWs Trading on Pedigree, Class Says

NEWARK (CN) - BMW cut costs by replacing its twin-turbo N54 engines with single-turbo products, but it is trading on the more powerful predecessor's prestige by marketing these newer models as "TwinPower Tubo," a federal class action alleges.

"Twin-turbo engines are objectively superior to single-turbo engines," the March 13 complaint states. "Conventional driving tests can measure this superior performance. For example, twin-turbo engines boast reduced turbo lag, superior throttle response, smoother delivery power and torque, and greater ease of tuning."

BMW's N54 twin-turbo engine was a huge success from 2006 to 2008, but the company phased that model out because of its high rate of pressure fuel pump failures and because of pressure to meet the Federal Corporate Average Fuel Regulations, according to the federal complaint.

Lead plaintiff Deepkarn Singh Bedi says BMW's new engine, the N55, is a single turbo, but that the automotive company is trading on twin-turbo terminology to maintain the "market prestige" that the old engine built up.

Bedi, a resident of Tiburon, Calif., says BMW deceived him into paying a premium lease price for the 335i coupe in 2013 because he expected a twin-turbo engine.

Calling the N55 the "false twin" of the N54, Bedi says BMW acted "to manipulate consumers into believing that the vehicle contained twin turbos, when, in actuality, it contains only a single turbo."

The N54's other "false twins" include the N20, N26 and B38 engines, according to the complaint.

Among model-year 2014 cars that BMW has also falsely marketed with "TwinPower Turbo" nomenclature "the 228i, M235i, 320i, 328i, 335i, 428i, 435i, 528i, 535d, 535i, 640i, 740i, 740li, Z4 sDrive28i, Z4 sDrive35i, and Z4 sDrive35is," Bedi says.

"They are all False Twins," the complaint continues.

Noting that it is common knowledge in the marketplace that an automobile with twin-turbo engines can command a premium price, Bedi says "BMW charged a MRSP premium of $7,500 more for a twin-turbocharged 2012 335i coupe" over a single-turbocharged engine in an identical car.

BMW uses TwinPower Turbo terminology on various media to promote single-turbo engines, Bedi says, pointing to the company's website, printed brochures, and other outlets.

With even the "technically savvy, sophisticated car enthusiasts and tuners" on Internet message boards confused about BMW's marketing terms, Bedi says the average consumer doesn't stand a chance.

"For the average consumer who uses the website to get a sense of the kind of car he or she wants, and then goes to a BMW dealership, there is no real opportunity to learn that every single BMW N20 and N55 TwinPower Turbo engine has only one turbocharger," the complaint states. "In fact, BMW goes to great lengths to lead average consumers to believe that 'TwinPower Turbo' means a twin-turbo engine."

Bedi says he would have never leased the coupe at the price he paid if he had been told the car only had a single turbocharger, or if any of the stickers or labels on the car had not had the "TwinPower Turbo" terminology.

The class seeks injunctive relief, restitution and punitive damages for breach of warranty, deceptive acts and other claims.

It is represented by James Shah with Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah in Collingswood, N.J.

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