Class Action Says Toyota, Lexus Vehicles Equipped with ‘Obsolete’ Features Reliant on Phased-Out 3G Networks
Bennett et al. v. Toyota Motor North America, Inc. et al.
Filed: November 7, 2022 ◆§ 2:22-cv-08147
A class action alleges Toyota has equipped certain vehicles with “telematics” that have allegedly been rendered obsolete after wireless carriers phased out their 3G networks earlier this year.
New York General Business Law California Unfair Competition Law California Consumers Legal Remedies Act
Toyota has joined the increasingly long list of automakers facing proposed class action litigation after equipping certain vehicles with driver-assist “telematics” that have allegedly been rendered obsolete after major wireless carriers phased out their 3G networks earlier this year.
The 32-page case was filed in the wake of similar suits brought against Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Porsche over allegations that the automakers failed to disclose to drivers that certain vehicle features reliant on a 3G internet connection, including collision notification and roadside assist safety functions, would be rendered partially or wholly inoperable as 3G networks were phased out nationwide.
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The lawsuit against Toyota, filed on November 7 in California, claims the automaker omitted material information on the “inevitable and premature” termination of 3G-enabled services, including Lexus Enform, Toyota Safety Connect and the Entune App, in certain vehicle models at the time of sale. The filing argues that owners and lessees have been injured financially in that they’ve been left with vehicles that are “fundamentally different,” and less valuable, than what they believed they were paying for.
The complaint alleges the following vehicle models have been equipped with obsolete, inoperable telematics equipment that is essentially “bricked” now that their 3G connectivity has been disconnected:
- 2011-2017 Toyota Sienna;
- 2012-2016 Toyota Prius v;
- 2013-2018 Toyota Avalon/HV;
- 2012-2014 Toyota RAV4 EV;
- 2012-2015 Toyota Prius Plug-In;
- 2013-2017 Toyota Camry/HV;
- 2016-2017 Toyota Mirai;
- 2010-2016 Toyota Prius;
- 2014-2017 Toyota Highlander/HV;
- 2011-2017 Toyota Land Cruiser;
- 2010-2019 Toyota 4Runner;
- 2010-2018 Lexus GX; and
- All other 2010-2017 Lexus vehicle models.
“The decision by Defendants to cut 3G connectivity will have stark financial consequences for the class members,” the case states, chiding Toyota for its decision to equip the above-listed vehicles with technology dependent on 3G services “that were inevitably and foreseeably subject to termination.”
According to the complaint, Toyota was well aware of the risks of equipping the vehicles with 3G-reliant telematics, as the sunsetting of 3G was “long foreseeable,” yet nevertheless continued to design and produce vehicles with equipment that it knew would soon be obsolete.
Making matters worse, the case says, drivers have been forced to deal with the outdated equipment in their vehicles on their own given Toyota charges consumers to upgrade the technology that they already paid for.
Around October 2020, Toyota mailed a letter to owners and lessees of the above-listed vehicle models informing them that several key mobile app features would be terminated, the case relays. Despite possessing advanced knowledge that 3G would be phased out, Toyota claimed to drivers that the features would be lost due to “circumstances … created by factors beyond our control,” the lawsuit says.
Thereafter, drivers lost, for instance, the ability to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicles remotely, and to connect with parking locator, roadside assistance and dealer locator services, the case states. For drivers of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the loss of 3G connectivity left them without being able to check their vehicle’s battery charge level and total range or the ability to schedule the time of day their vehicle charges in order to take advantage of when electricity prices are at their lowest, according to the suit.
Toyota, the complaint says, “refused to make available a 4G upgrade kit installation” covered under warranty, or otherwise cover all costs associated with upgrading the 3G modem in affected vehicle models.
The lawsuit looks to cover all persons and entities in the United States who’ve bought or leased any of the vehicle models listed on this page for end use and not for resale.
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