Entewan Faragalla recently filed a class action complaint in California against Tesla Inc. and Tesla Motors (collectively Tesla). Faragalla alleges the auto manufacturer’s vehicles are “defective insofar as they are equipped with defective touchscreen media control units (MCU(s)) which routinely fail after only a few years of normal use.” He is also seeking a trial by jury along with financial compensation.
According to the complaint, if the MCU in the center console “goes blank” it disables several essential vehicle functions that include: the sunroof exterior lights; acceleration settings; steering modes; regenerative braking; stopping mode; the entire sound system, including the turn-signal tones; warning notification display; critical gauges; GPS navigation; self-driving mode; and rear view camera.
The complaint claims the company violated: the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the Unfair Competition Law, California Business and Professions Code, and was in breach of warranty under California law as well as violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
The vehicles mentioned in the complaint include Tesla’s 2014-2016 Model S or 2015-2016 Model X. The auto manufacturer is accused of marketing its Model X SUV and Model S sedan as the “best,” “safest” and “quickest” cars that only “get better over time,” when in fact the cars’ touch screens fail after a few years of use, according to Faragalla’s class action complaint. His complaint also mentioned Tesla used deceptive marketing since the touch screens in both vehicle models can shut down and disable safety features while the car is in drive.
“Defendant (Tesla) uniformly marketed the vehicles as delivering superior performance and safety features, when, in fact, they do not because the vehicles contain a defect that causes the touchscreen media control units to malfunction, disabling various essential features of the vehicles, including safety features,” a portion of the complaint reads.
According to the complaint, Faragalla purchased a Tesla Model S in April 2015 because the vehicle’s safety and technology, which were controlled through the touch screen, impressed him. The touch screen had “gone dark on numerous occasions, especially when driving, disabling safety features solely accessible through the screen.” Faragalla alleged the issues posed a safety risk “because when the system goes blank and malfunctions, it causes drivers to become distracted and it causes safety-related systems to fail.”
Faragalla claimed Tesla did not resolve the issue. According to his complaint, he called Tesla and was told to restart the screen. He then argued “drivers are unable to restart the screen when they are operating the vehicle.” Then Faragalla stated he paid approximately $2,300 in March for Tesla to perform a diagnostic test and replace his screen, because the issues were not covered under the warranty. According to the complaint, Tesla was made aware of the “defect” through multiple complaints on the company’s online forum.
“By its own admission, Tesla has stated that ‘[s]ince we own all of our service centers, we are aware of every incident that happens with our customer cars and we are aware of every part that gets replaced. Whenever there is even a potential issue with one of those parts, we investigate fully.’ Yet, [the] defendant (Tesla) has failed to warn purchasers and lessees about the possibility of the Vehicles’ MCUs malfunctioning and disabling the vehicles’ essential features, including numerous safety features. Defendant did not include any such warnings or instructions in its owner’s manuals, or in any of its other representations about the vehicles,” a portion of the complaint reads.
Faragalla also mentioned, had he known about the risks associated with the touch screen, he would not have purchased the vehicle.
As of press time Tesla has not respond with a comment on the class action complaint. Look to a future edition of glassBYTEs for more information on this suit.