Volkswagen Group of America and Audi AG have failed to disclose to drivers that the Start/Stop Efficiency System found in certain Audi vehicle models suffers from a defect that could cause the feature to malfunction.
According to the 57-page lawsuit out of Virginia, Audi’s Start/Stop Efficiency System is responsible for shutting a vehicle’s engine down temporarily when a driver presses the brake pedal at a stoplight or in other prolonged-idling situations. When a driver releases the brake pedal, the vehicle’s engine is meant to instantaneously start up again, the case says.
The lawsuit alleges, however, that Audi has intentionally failed to inform drivers that the engines in the following vehicle models equipped with the Start/Stop Efficiency System may lag, hesitate or otherwise fail to immediately kick back on when attempting to accelerate from a full or rolling stop:
2019-2020 Audi A3;
2017-2020 Audi A4;
2017-2020 Audi A5;
2017-2020 Audi A6;
2017-2020 Audi A7;
2017-2020 Audi Q3;
2017-2020 Audi Q5;
2017-2020 Audi Q7; and
2017-2020 Audi Q8.
When an Audi’s Start/Stop Efficiency System malfunctions, a driver may be unable to maneuver their vehicle, the case says. Per the suit, drivers who experience the defect may be left stranded in the middle of an intersection or be put in danger while attempting to merge onto a highway or accelerate from a stoplight or stop signs.
When an affected Audi’s engine does finally restart after several seconds, a driver may experience lurching and inconsistent acceleration and engagement of the throttle, “placing them in even greater danger of colliding with oncoming vehicles,” the lawsuit says.
“This Defect, which manifests itself within the limited warranty period, poses a serious safety risk to drivers, whose vehicle becomes unexpectedly inoperative and exposes them to increased risk of collision with other vehicles, road hazards, and/or pedestrians,” the plaintiff, a St. Pete Beach, Florida driver, asserts.
Though Audi and parent company Volkswagen have known of the defect for several years, coming to learn of the issue through National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records, internal data and a bevy of consumer complaints, the automakers have continued to manufacture and sell new Audi models without disclosing the issue to drivers, the lawsuit alleges. Moreover, drivers who’ve brought their vehicles to authorized Audi agents for repairs have been informed the Start/Stop Efficiency System malfunction is “a known problem” with no fix, according to the suit.
For vehicles for which the Start/Stop System can be de-activated, the lawsuit continues, Audi agents have recommended drivers de-activate the feature “each time the ignition is started by manually pressing a separate button,” a task the suit describes as “an additional inconvenience and mandatory burden” hidden from proposed class members by the defendants. Given the issue is inherent with affected vehicle models, it is impossible to correct the Start/Stop Efficiency System issue without disabling the entire system, the case reads.
“Audi’s efforts have been entirely inadequate in resolving the Defect or providing relief to the Class,” the plaintiff charges. “Moreover, Audi has failed to alert the Class Members of the true and unsafe nature of the Defect.”
To date, Audi vehicles plagued by the issue have not been recalled, and drivers have not been offered suitable repairs free of charge, the case relays. Rather than redesigning the apparently defective components, the defendants have instead offered drivers merely “ineffective or insufficient software updates” or other procedures that fall short of fixing the problem, the lawsuit says.
Per the suit, neither the plaintiff nor other drivers would have bought or leased the above-mentioned Audi vehicles—or would have paid less for the cars—had they known of the Start/Stop Efficiency System defect. The plaintiff stresses in the case that the defect manifested for his 2018 Audi Q5 almost immediately upon buying the vehicle, causing delayed acceleration and hesitation from full and rolling stops and leaving him at risk of being hit by oncoming traffic.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone in the United States who bought or leased any 2017-2020 Audi vehicle equipped with the automaker’s Start/Stop Efficiency System.
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