Skip to comments.Honda Wins Appeals Decision in Civic Hybrid Lawsuit: How It Happened
Posted on 05/13/2012 6:10:34 PM PDT by jjotto
After more than four months of legal battles, a Torrance, California, judge overturned the February 1 decision that awarded $9,867 to 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid owner Heather Peters. She won the judgment in Californias small claims court system, convincing the court that Honda made false claims about her cars ability to achieve 50 mpg when, in reality, she reported her car achieving 29 mpg.
Judge Dudley Gray II was nonplussed with the original decision, reversing it today. Because of California law, there can be no further appeals of the case.
Regarding the ruling, Honda said in a statement, We are never satisfied when a customer is anything less than satisfied with one of our products, and the company does not relish the necessity to defend the truth in opposition to any of our customers. However, it is important to note that, since January of this year, 17 similar small claims cases involving Civic Hybrid owners have been heard in courts across the country and Honda has now prevailed in 16, based on facts and the law.
Peters countered in a statement of her own that Its a sad day when regulations designed to protect consumers are used against them. Im certain that the EPA and FTC never intended to shield Honda from liability for advertising claims that a court of law determined to be false.
Below is a report of how it all unfolded. Puffery vs. Fact
Things like this happen around the country, every day, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said April 19 as he stood outside a Torrance, California, courtroom...
(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.automotive.com ...
Thought you might be interested in this follow-up if you hadn’t seen it already.
From the article:
“...But Peters car was never tested by an independent party to see how much her driving habits played a role in her fuel economy. As it is, Hondas IMA system never runs in a pure electric mode; an aggressive driver could get unhybrid-like fuel economy if the engine is always being pushed.
Before the appeals case started, we said that the only true way to see if her car was defective would be to properly test it according to EPA standards. That didnt happen...
...Brisbois also brought up her former cars as a comparison to what she might be comparing her Civictwo BMW Z3 roadsters, a BMW X5 crossover, and a Mazda RX-8 sports car...
MPG depends on driving conditions and the drivers ability to use conservative methods of driving. Generally no person on the highway can reach the posted MPG they state. Poor drivers will almost always get very poor mileage. For instance just idling at intersections will lower MPG.
I routinely get 40+ MPG in my 08 Camry Hybrid - the posted MPG was 34/33.
Push a little engine hard and the mileage will drop, same for sitting in traffic.
Sounds like this Peters wants to become the Erin Brocoliwitch of autos.
A regular citizen, even one with some law training is hardly a match for High powered high paid ,attorneys who do this for a living.
Coming up against people with almost unlimited funds it isn’t surprising that she lost.
A car that can only get the claimed & marketed mpg when under extremely controlled conditions is the problem.
When people are shopping for a fuel efficient car, they don’t realize that the car’s mpg is only for when the A/C is never run, radio off, tires over inflated, driven in a very bizarre fashion like applying power until the car reaches 65mph, then shifted into neutral, then coast down to 40mph, then power back on, never having to deal with traffic or other drivers.
Lets change the way these cars get their mpg rating. Lets give the cars to 10 completely random people in 5 very different areas of the country for 1 year. At the end of the year we average up the gas used vs the total miles. Then call this the “Real MPG” and make manufactures use that.
My Mother has a Honda Insight hybrid. When she drives it she never gets more than 37-38 mpg. When I drive it I can get 50 under the right conditions and average 42-45 mpg. She drives in a very conventional way, I have changed the way I drive the car to get the best use of the hybrid features.
This case demonstrates some of the biggest problems when businesses get sued in small claims court. Because there is no pre-trial discovery allowed, it is mostly trial-by-ambush. The plaintiff knows what he or she is going to present, and the defendant can only react on the spot. Preparation is mostly limited to what little information was revealed in the plaintiff’s written claim, and what was known from prior contact with the plaintiff. Plus businesses are not allowed to use an attorney to represent them in small claims court. Add the liberal personal politics and prejudices of the “judge”, and you often get a kangaroo court. No one should ever take results from a small claims court as a clear indication of anything.
The 2011 Hybrid Camry here does really well what times I look at the computer. It is my wife’s car. The Tacoma does about what the sticker says and I am a moderate driver.
I used to get 60 MPG out of my 1992 Honda Civic VX when 44/48 was posted. Doing city courier runs I usually hit 48 in the city. Too bad the Feds won’t allow that car to built today. 93 HP and air conditioning too.
I have a 2012 Nissan Versa that consistently gets 39 MPG, though it has been as high as 42 MPG. When I compared the upfront cost of a hybrid to the upfront cost of my no frills $12000 Versa (manual transmission), I had to go with the Versa. The low cost meant I was able to pay cash, so no out of pocket dollars going to interest. I would have had to drive the hybrid for years & years before I could hope to begin saving what I saved by buying the Versa, just looking at sticker price alone. In addition, it has been my experience that Nissans are good for 300K + miles if taken care of. Maybe one day the hybrid will be the most economical choice but I don’t think we are there yet.
The hybrids have a ECO button that changes the response of the gas pedal (so I’m told). If you have it set on, the gas pedal has a mushy feel that helps avoid the jackrabbit starts; off the pedal is stiffer and more responsive (like a normal car).
I think her biggest complaint came when she took her car in for service and they reprogrammed the computer. Supposedly, they did this to conserve the life of the battery, which I assume maybe they were worried about having to replace some of these batteries wearing out during the warranty period. She was not too happy with the mileage she was getting to begin with, and when they reprogrammed the battery the mileage dropped considerably - to the point that it was not much better than the non-hybrid version, and certainly not worth the extra cost.
I drive a Vibe. Posted mileage 25/31. I routinely get 29/37.
I have never had a problem matching EPA estimates in a wide variety of vehicles, except in bad winter conditions when there is lots of warm-up idling.
Likewise. With the type of driving I do, and the way I drive (most assuredly not “granny style”), my long-term average is typically pretty close to the average of the two EPA numbers.
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