This lawsuit alleges that the Range Extenders in BMW i3 electric vehicles are defective and that when they are engaged, the vehicle slows down to extraordinarily low speeds. Range extenders are small gas engines within the vehicle that aid in replenishing the battery during long drives. This defect, dubbed “limp mode” poses a serious safety risk to drivers and others who share the road and plaintiffs allege that BMW has profited off of this safety risk and violated multiple state and federal laws.
One of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, Dean Rollolazo, is a resident of Ladera Ranch, California. He bought his 2015 BMW i3 with the Range Extender option at Irvine BMW in June 2015. He purchased this vehicle because he valued the environmental friendliness of the primary electric motor yet wanted the cushion of having a backup gas engine. At the time he purchased the vehicle, he was unaware of the defective Range Extender that put the vehicle into “limp mode.” This feature has endangered Rollolazo and has caused him out-of pocket losses, future attempted repairs, loss of warranty value, and diminished vehicle value. BMW knew that the Range Extender that Rollolazo purchased was not effective, but this was not disclosed to him. BMW profited off of this transaction at the plaintiff’s expense and now Rollolazo and many other plaintiffs from California, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, Idaho, Washington, Illinois, and Ohio.
According to many people in the electric car industry including Tesla founder Elon Musk, “range anxiety” is one of the biggest problems facing electric car drivers. Some companies such as Tesla have focused their efforts on improving the size and efficiency of lithium-ion batteries while traditional and established auto-manufacturers have been creating backup-engine systems. BMW’s Range Extender engine is a 650cc gas-powered engine that does not drive the wheels directly. Rather, it acts as a generator that fuels the battery which then powers the electric motor. When engaged, the Range Extender puts the car into “limp mode.” This dangerous mode makes the vehicle slow rapidly, prevents acceleration, and in some cases turns off the braking lights.
BMW has falsely marketed and profited off of the Range Extender. On its website it notes that customers can “breathe a little easier on drives when charging stations are not readily available.” Drivers that have experienced limp mode certainly did not breathe any easier when their expensive luxury vehicles put their safety in jeopardy. This falsely marketed option has been very profitable for BMW. Vehicles without the optional Range Extender start at $42,400. Vehicles with the Range Extender start at $46,250, a $3,850 premium. Not only did customers suffer financial damages from this premium, but from repair costs and diminished value of the vehicle.
Based on all the facts, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that BMW violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the California Unfair Competition Law, California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Law, California’s False Advertising Law, and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act among other state and federal laws by producing defective Range Extender motors and then marketing and selling them at a profit at the expense of consumers.