Jeep Wrangler 4xe Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles Prone To Catch Fire, Explode

Class action lawsuit claims the Jeep hybrid battery fire risks have been known for years, but the manufacturer has failed to address the problem.

According to allegations raised in a recently filed class action lawsuit, Jeep Wrangler plug-in hybrid electric vehicles sold in recent years may contain batteries that are prone to explode or catch fire, even while parked.

The complaint (PDF) was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on March 4, on behalf of plaintiffs from seven states, including Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The filing names FCA, LLC, also known as Chrysler, as the defendant, and seeks class action status to pursue damages on behalf of all buyers and lessees of model year 2021 through 2023 Jeep Wrangler 4xe vehicles equipped with electric batteries.

Plaintiffs indicate FCA issued a Jeep recall in November 2023, warning owners that the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery (PHEV) may fail. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advised owners to avoid recharging the electric battery and to park their vehicles outside and away from any structures until they received the recall remedy.

Affected owners received a battery software update and replacement battery if needed, but plaintiffs claim FCA failed to identify the root cause or find a solution to the defect, leaving owners with potentially hazardous vehicles that they cannot safely use.

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Jeep Wrangler Battery Problems

In the complaint, plaintiffs indicate that some, but not all, of the known vehicle fires occurred while the batteries were charging. While FCA still claims the reason is unknown, plaintiffs allege the root cause of the fires stems from a defect in the high-voltage lithium-ion battery and related components of the vehicle’s electric mode.

Plaintiffs indicate the vehicles were equipped with batteries manufactured by Samsung SDI America, Inc., which has known about issues with its PHEV batteries since at least 2020. According to the complaint, FCA has been aware of Samsung made battery issues since at least 2020 as well.

Ford recalled certain Kuga PHEV models in August 2020 due to the fire risks associated with batteries manufactured by Samsung, which also warned owners to avoid charging them. Following several vehicle fire complaints, BMW issued a similar recall of more than 26,000 PHEV models equipped with Samsung-manufactured batteries, warning owners that debris entered the battery cells during production, which could cause a vehicle fire.

Samsung issued a recall of its EV batteries due to poor manufacturing quality, including those used to manufacture some FCA models around 2022, the complaint indicates. However, FCA still did not offer owners and lessees any remedy to correct the issue, only telling them to refrain from recharging the electric battery and to keep vehicles parked outside until a final repair was issued.

Jeep Hybrid Batteries Still Unsafe, Lawsuit Claims

Plaintiffs indicate FCA still has not offered a repair or solution to the battery fire issues. Owners indicate the company sold them vehicles they cannot safely drive or have near their home. The complaint indicates owners have not been told how far away their vehicles are supposed to be from other objects, or what owners should do with them if they do not have a safe parking location.

Plaintiffs argue they paid thousands of dollars more for the electric Jeep Wrangler version for the added environmental and cost-saving benefits, but would have never purchased the allegedly defective PHEV models if they had known about the battery problems beforehand. Without a remedy or the ability to recharge the electric battery, owners are left with an essentially useless hybrid system they cannot use and any cost benefits they would have gained with an electric vehicle are lost because they now have to purchase gasoline to power them, the lawsuit indicates.

Another claim raised by plaintiffs alleges FCA failed to conduct adequate stress and durability testing before releasing a lithium-ion battery-powered vehicle. The complaint indicates the automaker rushed to release the new PHEV model and would have discovered the battery defects if it had performed the proper pre-launch testing.

The plaintiffs request class action status on behalf of themselves and other consumers who purchased or leased the affected vehicles, seeking compensation for damages and a repair under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, for FCA’s violations of state consumer protection acts, breaches of implied warranties, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs also seek the establishment of an FCA-funded program for affected consumers to reimburse them for any costs associated with the allegedly defective hybrid system.

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