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Toyota Facing Class Action Over Soy-Based Wiring Insulation

Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. are the defendants in a proposed class action alleging the soy-based wiring insulation included in certain vehicle models entices rodents to “chew through, eat, or otherwise damage and compromise” the cars’ wiring. The lawsuit notes that this issue can be catastrophic and damage wiring systems to the point where vehicles become “partially or completely inoperable.”

The complaint notes that the below vehicle models (thus far) may be affected by the soy-based wiring insulation problem:

  • 2011-2016 4Runner
  • 2013 Avalon
  • 2012-2013 Camry Hybrid
  • 2009-2016 Camry
  • 2014 FJ Cruiser
  • 2010, 2015 Prius
  • 2012-2015 Prius C
  • 2012, 2015 Prius V
  • 2008-2016 Rav4
  • 2015 Sequoia
  • 2012 Sienna
  • 2014, 2015 Tacoma
  • 2009-2016 Tundra
  • 2009, 2015 Highlander
  • 2014, 2016 Corolla
  • 2010, 2013 Venza Ltd.

Filed in Florida, the 36-page lawsuit argues that Toyota was or should have been aware of the issue surrounding its soy-based wiring insulation, yet did not disclose this alleged defect to consumers and has routinely refused to repair affected vehicles or issue a recall. 

The complaint notes that car wiring is typically coated or covered with plastic- or glass-based insulation. Over the last decade or so, however, car makers have shifted away from these materials to both cut costs and explore the use of new, more recyclable materials. According to the case, Toyota has taken this measure too far.

“The safety concerns that accompany failures in automobile electrical systems are obvious, and Toyota’s continued use of soy-based wiring insulation poses a legitimate threat to the safety of [the plaintiff], class members, prospective purchasers or lessees of Class Vehicles, and other drivers on the road,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit later claims that despite knowledge of the alleged defect, Toyota refuses to honor consumers’ warranties, often pleading the soy-based insulation problems are excluded from coverage due to an “other environmental conditions” exemption.

The suit seeks to cover a proposed class of consumers nationwide who bought or leased a Class Vehicle with soy-based wiring insulation, as well as a Florida-specific subclass of individuals who fit the aforementioned criteria and incurred out-of-pocket expenses related to the issue.

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