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Tesla Lawsuits vs. Other Automaker & Dealership Lawsuits: Who Was Sued The Most?

With all of the hoopla surrounding Tesla in the news, it seems that Tesla is always getting sued. Whether it’s a dealership suing Tesla because they don’t want competition on their turf, or for other reasons, each lawsuit is often amplified by the media to the point that it seems that Tesla is the only automaker getting sued.

One such headline from CNBC shared in 2019 gave a list of both Tesla and Elon Musk’s “dozens of lawsuits and investigations.” With headlines like that one, it’s no wonder that many would think Tesla is always getting sued and is the only one. However, this isn’t the case.

America’s Most Sued Automaker Isn’t Tesla — It’s GM

Premonition, the world’s largest litigation database, compiled a list of the top 10 automakers that were sued the most in 2017, and although Tesla was on the list, it only had 3 cases. The automakers on that list and the number of cases are as follows:

  • General Motors — 260 cases
  • Chrysler — 36
  • Toyota — 30
  • Ford — 18
  • Hyundai — 12
  • BMW — 9
  • Nissan — 6
  • Tesla — 3
  • Audi — 2
  • Porsche — 1
  • Volkswagen — 1.

Premonition noted that a study found that Ford has less litigation than every other domestic manufacture except for Tesla. As for who won their cases, Ford won only 33%, while GM won 93% in 2017 — which is quite important and a good sign for the company since it was the most sued automaker that year. Losing 7% of 260 lawsuits, though, means that it still lost 18 lawsuits.

A more recent lawsuit (June 2021)  involving GM was filed against the company for being deceptive about destination charges. Customers were upset due to the automaker’s destination charges being misleading and deceptive. The plaintiffs in this particular case were unaware that GM was profiting off of the destination fees that it charged customers.

Lemons

Tesla is often accused of selling lemon cars. In fact, some of its critics refer to Tesla’s customers as “lemmings.” However, Goldsmith West Consumer Law published an article back in 2017 titled “Which Auto Manufacturer had the most Lemons in 2017.” The firm has been monitoring lemon cases filed against automakers in the Central District of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The firm noted that although this is just one courthouse in L.A., it may be the largest single courthouse for lemon law litigation in California and the U.S. Also, it’s a city where a higher number of Teslas are sold.

The article broke down lemon cases by statistics and Tesla wasn’t even on the list. The 2017 lemon case statistics showed that the top three vehicle brands for lemon law appearances were Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Ford was the leader — by far.

Dealerships Get Sued, Too

You may remember that case in Connecticut where a dealership is suing Tesla because it doesn’t want Tesla selling its vehicles directly to customers. It’s pretty common for dealerships to be sued, too. In fact, it’s so common that if you just Google the words “sue dealership,” there are many how-to articles on how to sue a car dealership (once you scroll past all of the Google ads.) In many cases, people are researching to see if they can sue a dealership for lying. One law firm came up in the top search results with a helpful headline, “What to do when a car dealer lied to you.”

Whitney Attorneys At Law, which is located in Maryland, noted that it’s pretty common for car dealerships to lie or mislead customers, and many times, the customers don’t find out until they have already signed the dotted line. The firm also published a blog on the top 10 dealer scams, which I’ll briefly include below:

  1. When financing is not approved but the dealer sells your trade or keeps the down payment;
  2. False online price advertising, the price is increased when the customer arrives at the dealership;
  3. Forgery on finance or lease agreements, often changing monthly payments, loan amounts, and interest rates;
  4. Finance charges added if financing through Credit Acceptance (that is illegal);
  5. Rental history/commercial use of a used car is not disclosed;
  6. Inflating income or improving job title on a customer’s credit application;
  7. Hiding car damage or not disclosing a salvage title;
  8. Odometer fraud;
  9. Selling a car without having the title;
  10. GAP and Extended Warranty are paid for but not purchased.

Conclusion

I performed a Google Search on “Ford Lawsuits” and I didn’t see any CNBC, CNN, or Bloomberg articles in the top results mentioning the more recent class-action lawsuit over Ford’s Super Duty Power Tailgate recall fix not working. Comparing that search with “Tesla Lawsuits,” there are dozens of headlines from news and blogs sites, such as TechCrunch, The New York Times, SFGate, and even a Wikipedia page dedicated to a list of Teslas lawsuits.

So, it does seem like Tesla is always getting sued, when this is not actually the case and the headlines are misleading. The media is more focused on Tesla than it is on Ford, GM, or even dealerships and the scams they play on customers every day. Premonition noted that GM is the most sued automaker in America, yet when I searched “Most Sued Automaker,” only Premonition’s research came up — and there were no shocking headlines that inspire anger, fear, and outrage. Imagine if Tesla was the most sued automaker. …

There were articles about different cases, but none of them mentioned a specific headline with “GM is the Most Sued Automaker in America” or something similar, except for Premonition. You may think that an article about GM being the most sued automaker isn’t necessary, but when compared to the constant news about Tesla being sued, I think it is — only to show the context of how often Tesla is really sued compared to other automakers.

Something to keep in mind is that whenever you see legal hobbyists or people/blogs who document every single one of Tesla’s lawsuits but ignore those of the other automakers, there’s more to this picture than they are presenting. In the above case, it’s most likely a narrative they are trying to paint about Tesla without any regard or care for the actual law or other incidents involving lawsuits, accidents, etc. with other auto manufacturers.

Tesla isn’t the most sued Automaker in America. GM is. (Until new data surfaces claiming otherwise, at least.) And GM isn’t going out of business anytime soon, so why should Tesla? Think about it, and keep your wits about you.

 
 
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Written By

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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