Some Toyota Prius Owners in Dark Mood
By Brendan Moore
Some Prius owners are hopping mad at Toyota for selling them a car that the owners claim has a serious safety defect – their headlamps burning out quickly.
The online chatter among Toyota Prius owners about their headlamps burning out seems to have started around late 2006, with complaints from owners that their optional, upgraded lamps were burning out too quickly, but more importantly, are hideously expensive to replace.
The unhappiness has gotten much more pronounced lately, with a class-action suit filed against Toyota by a group of Prius owners, and, US federal safety officials are investigating the issue currently, having started their investigation in April of this year.
So, how expensive is hideously expensive?
Depending on whether the shop has to replace part of the assembly, or, the entire light assembly module, the cost runs from $300 USD to $1800 USD. That is per headlamp. A few owners have stated that they have had to replace both HID lamps on their Prius.
Think about paying $600 out of pocket to replace the headlamps on your 2 year-old Prius, and, it’s not a happy thought. Think about paying $3600 to replace your headlights and your thoughts become as dark as the night.
Hence, the class-action suit.
Prius owners want Toyota to pick up those replacement costs voluntarily, or, have the federal government determine that the issue is a safety defect and subsequently force Toyota to absorb those costs on behalf of consumers.
The timing is bad for Toyota, since they are in the middle the launch of the third-generation Prius, a 2010 model. The expensive national media blitz has already started.
Of course, Toyota’s brand reputation is even more important than one model’s reputation and this can’t be good in that regard. This single issue is not a catastrophe; it’s not going to turn into a public relations crisis, but it’s not a positive. Consumers don’t generally buy Toyotas for their looks or their sports performance, or, at this point, even fuel economy, since others easily match Toyota in fuel efficiency. Consumers prize Toyotas for their reliability and those cars’ low costs of ownership, and that is the purchase trigger, and, the source of Toyota’s customer loyalty. Deterioration of those two brand qualities would eventually have a serious negative effect on Toyota sales.
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