Lawsuit Against Volvo Alleges Misrepresentations Regarding Android Auto Compatibility
A putative class action has been filed by Frederick S. Levine and Douglas W. Murphy alleging that Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, and Volvo Car USA, LLC (collectively, “Volvo”) mispresented in its marketing of certain Volvo models that those cars featured compatibility with Android Auto, when they were in fact incompatible.
The lawsuit alleges that Volvo “made substantial efforts to distinguish the Volvo XC90 from its competitors’ automobiles by marketing it as more technologically advanced and unique than the competition,” including touting a technology user interface called “Sensus.” The plaintiffs allege that Volvo “stated in its press releases and marketing materials that a significant, cutting edge feature of Sensus was that it was or would be compatible with the coveted Google application, Android Auto,” which would allow drivers to integrate features in their Android smartphones with the Sensus system. Android Auto, as described in the complaint, allows users to control their smartphones through the car’s touchscreen display, steering wheel buttons, and/or voice commands, and certain smartphone applications and functions, such as telephone calls and direction applications, appear on the console.
The complaint further contends that in or about December 2016, Volvo added Android Auto to the 2017 XXC90s it was then manufacturing and offered complimentary upgrades to create Sensus compatibility with Android Auto; however, such upgrades were unavailable for 2016 XC90s, and only available for 2017 XC90s built after April 2016. Further, the plaintiffs allege that while Volvo made available a “USB Installation Kit” to make the cars in the class compatible with Android Auto, it required buyers to pay the costs of installation.
Plaintiff Mr. Levine alleged as follows: he purchased a 2016 Volvo XC90, which was one of the non-compatible XC90s. After learning about the USB Installation Kit, he went to a Volvo dealership and requested installation, and was informed that it could only be installed at substantial cost to him. Volvo’s “Customer Care Team” informed him:
We have finished reviewing your case and as much as we truly desire to resolve all of our customer’s requests to their satisfaction, it is not possible to meet every expectation. We regret that in this instance, Volvo Car USA cannot accommodate your request for assistance with part costs. We apologize for any inconvenience in this matter. We have attached a 30% off mail-in rebate coupon (parts and accessories only) to this email, that can be mailed in with your invoice after, to receive a check for the maximum allowed amount.
The plaintiffs allege the availability of the USB Installation Kit followed the filing of a prior lawsuit against Volvo relating to the Android Auto, Middien v. Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, case number 1:17-cv-11721-LTS, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which the plaintiff in that case—Robert Middien—voluntarily dismissed due to jurisdictional issues. Mr. Middien then refiled the case in the District Court of New Jersey, case number 2:18-cv-03760. Mr. Levine and Mr. Murphy filed a motion to intervene and amend the complaint in that case to name themselves as plaintiffs and proposed class representatives in the Middien case and explained they filed the instant lawsuit in the event that motion was denied.
The plaintiffs assert claims of deceptive acts in violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, as well as breach of express warranties.
The lawsuit seeks remedies including damages and attorneys’ fees. The case is Levine et al. v. Volvo Cars of North America, LLC et al, case number 2:19-cv-19821, in the United States District Court for New Jersey.