Roger Hogan owns two Toyota dealerships in Southern California, which is why he’s the last person you’d think would be locking horns with the global automaker over an unlikely foe: the Toyota Prius.
Since its initial launch in 1997, the Prius hybrid has become the top-selling gas-sipper, and one of the cleanest cars on U.S. roads, according to the EPA. So what could this unassuming hatchback have done to find itself at the center of a $100 million lawsuit? Hogan says certain model years of the car are so unsafe, he doesn’t feel comfortable even selling them anymore.
In 2014 and 2015, Toyota recalled 800,000 Prius models after a defect might cause drivers to temporarily lose power when the car’s inverter overheated. The recall offered a software fix that Toyota says was adequate. Hogan disagrees, saying he’s still had a steady influx of customers since who have problems that the recall should have fixed. In fact, he says that he has personally seen more than a hundred that have had the recall fix, but still have the inverter problem. These include customers who shared stories of frightening experiences with their Priuses suddenly ceasing to operate on high-speed, busy roads.
Once among his best-sellers, Hogan says he will still take 2010 to 2015 model year Priuses as trade-ins, but he won’t re-sell them, rather, he parks them on the roof of his dealership. He estimates he has about 50 – or, a million dollars-worth – up there baking in the California sun.
His lawsuit alleges breach of contract and fraud, but Toyota says Hogan’s claims are without merit and that he’s really just worked up about a separate issue that relates to a succession plan he has for his dealership – bad blood, not bad vehicle design.
That said, Hogan’s lawyer tells CBS News that he wants to see the Prius safety case to go to trial and “look(s) forward to it very much.”