A California motorist has sued American Honda Motor Co. claiming her Civic Hybrid failed to live up to gasoline mileage expectations.
Heather Peters, 46, of Los Angeles, filed a $10,000 suit against Honda on Tuesday in the small-claims court in Torrance, Calif., where American Honda is headquartered.
The Los Angeles Times reported the dispute last week, and the Associated Press reported the suit was filed on Tuesday.
According to the reports, Peters, a former lawyer, said in the suit that she expected the car to deliver 50 mpg as the manufacturer promised. But as her 2006 vehicle’s battery deteriorated over time, it barely got 30 mpg, she said. She is seeking reimbursement for the difference in the purchase price of the hybrid from that of the conventional Civic and the extra money she spent on gasoline.
Peters opted out of a series of class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of Honda hybrid owners over the cars’ fuel economy, according to the Times.
The proposed settlement would give plaintiffs no more than $200 cash and a rebate of $500 or $1,000 toward the purchase a new Honda, the newspaper said. In the small-claims court, Honda would be prohibited from bringing an attorney, according to California state law.
Honda has acknowledged that the battery on 2006-08 Civic Hybrids “may deteriorate and eventually fail” earlier than expected, causing the cars to rely on the gasoline engine more, compromising the fuel economy, according to the Times. Peters said she would never have purchased her car if she had known that.
Neil Schmidt, a technical expert for Honda, called Peters’ $10,000 claim excessive and said that the federal government had required Honda to post the highest mileage the car could get but that the mileage varies depending on how the car is driven, the AP report said.
Peters told AP she had written a letter to Honda threatening to file a suit in small-claims court if there was no response and said she also had sent e-mails to top executives at Honda but got no response.
Honda said in a statement to AP that Peters neither contacted it to complain nor expressed any concern about her vehicle’s fuel economy until she sent a letter in late November before filing her suit.
Peters has started a Web site, dontsettlewithhonda.org, which urges Honda owners to take their complaints to small-claims court.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan is expected to rule on the case this week.
Meanwhile, a judge in San Diego County is scheduled to rule in March on whether to approve Honda’s class-action settlement offer for hybrid owners. Members of the class have until Feb. 11 to accept or decline the deal.