Truck Trends Article on the R/T
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DaimlerChrysler truck nowhere close to its `heavyweight' claim
Toronto Star Business Reporter
But that hasn't stopped DaimlerChrysler from taking a tough line with buyers over compensation, disgruntled owners say.
DaimlerChrysler confirmed yesterday the 1998-99 Dodge Dakota RT trucks can only tow about 2,000 pounds - less than one-third the 6,200 pounds of towing power the company claims in glossy brochures and operating manuals.
The error has triggered a furor among some owners here, who charge DaimlerChrysler with misrepresenting a key selling point. Furthermore, they say American buyers are getting better offers from the company to resolve their complaints.
Some U.S. owners launched a class action lawsuit this week against DaimlerChrysler for allegedly misleading them.
DaimlerChrysler Canada concedes the company made an error, but insists it has received only a few complaints and the issue has caused little impact.
``This is an honest mistake that slipped through our production of materials,'' said company spokesperson Michael St. Pierre. ``We do have processes for reviewing materials for accuracy.''
Some local dealers, however, are still carrying brochures with the old towing capacity under the headline of ``Haul like a heavyweight'' and a picture of a flashy blue Dakota pulling a big boat.
The Windsor-based auto giant says it has notified all 600 owners in Canada about the capacity reduction and made offers to resolve any complaints.
St. Pierre said the company has proposed a $300 payment to owners to cover buyers' costs of the original towing package that now can't meet DaimlerChrysler's initial claims. The package includes a hitch and wiring.
He added the company is working with owners on other solutions but would not disclose any details on possible buybacks or vehicle replacements.
``Each case is different,'' St. Pierre said. ``We're looking to satisfy the customer. We've had less than a dozen inquiries. A majority of our customers are absolutely pleased with the product. Only about 10 per cent of them even bought the towing packages.
But Ted Vaughan, a government financial analyst in Halifax, said the idea of accepting $300 for the loss of more than 5,000 pounds of towing capacity is ridiculous. Vaughan complained to DaimlerChrysler's regional office and it offered him nothing because he did not buy the original package.
``I planned to get it equipped later at a dealer,'' he said. ``That's why I bought it. If I knew there was a truck body on a car, I would have bought a car instead.''
Dave Kennedy of Markham complained and DaimlerChrysler responded in a letter by offering to refund him the cost of his Dakota if he paid 10 cents for every kilometer of use. The company advised him the offer was open for three days.
In the United States, one Dakota owner said in a newspaper letter that he had to pay just 0.12 cents (U.S.) a mile in a buyback offer - less than one-tenth what Kennedy was asked to pay.
``It's absolutely insulting and degrading that on the American side, they appear to be making better offers to owners,'' Kennedy said earlier this week. ``They suggested to me it depended on who you were to determine what kind of deal you'd get.
``I heard one guy down there was offered a $3,000 rebate to purchase another truck after his Dakota was bought back.''
Kennedy said yesterday DaimlerChrysler abruptly improved its offer to him this week, after Dakota owners filed their lawsuit in California on Monday. Kennedy said he has accepted the new offer - but also agreed not to talk about it, having signed a non-disclosure agreement.
``All I can say is I'm pleased,'' he said.
Kennedy and Vaughan said they never received notification from the auto maker about the towing capacity error.
``What about some poor guy whose towing something and doesn't know about the restriction?'' asked Vaughan. ``They're playing with people's lives.''
St. Pierre said DaimlerChrysler is unaware of any injuries or accidents because of the mistake.
© 1996-1999, The Toronto Star.
Truck owners sue DaimlerChrysler on tow capacity
Dakota R/T owners say the truck can haul only 2,000 pounds instead of the 6,400 originally claimed in brochures.
By Dina ElBoghdady / Detroit News Washington Bureau pounds.
WASHINGTON -- Some owners of 1998 and 1999 Dodge Dakota R/T pickup trucks filed a lawsuit Monday in a California state court alleging that DaimlerChrysler AG misled them about the towing capacity of their trucks.
They claimed the company said the sporty truck versions could haul 6,400 pounds when they actually could handle only 2,000
In Los Angeles Superior Court, Robert Graham of California and Truman Trekell of Texas said DaimlerChrysler breached a contract with roughly 11,000 Dakota R/T owners by misrepresenting the product.
In June, the automaker notified owners by mail about what it called an error in advertising brochures and owner manuals. In the letter, the company encouraged customers to contact their dealerships or corporate offices if they had questions or comments.
"A mistake was made and we put the wrong towing capacity in our catalogue," said Lou Goldfarb, vice-president and associate general counsel at DaimlerChrysler "We did the responsible thing by promptly notifying owners."
The automaker offered to buy back the pickups from disgruntled customers who responded to the letter, Goldfarb said, adding that only 64 owners requested the buyback.
But Bryan Kemnitzer, the plaintiffs' attorney, said some Dakota R/T owners had not been offered a buyback when they notified the automaker of their concern.
The plaintiffs would rather have DaimlerChrysler deal with the owners as a group, rather than on an individual basis, he said.
"We want a consistent resolution so that everybody has the same option," Kemnitzer said. "We want everyone treated fairly."
DaimlerChrysler said it hadn't seen the lawsuit. But Goldfarb said he believes the lawyers in this case aren't looking out for the interests of the owners. "What this case is about is lawyers making money," he said.
The Dakota R/T adds the muscle of a Magnum 5.9L V8 engine to this compact pickup's already best-in-class payload and towing
capabilities. The R/T's 250 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque reach the road via a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission. Additional features include a special handling suspension and a rear stabilizer bar, back the Dakota R/T's claim to bold performance.
"We're really excited to be able to do a vehicle like the Dakota R/T," said Dodge General Manager Ray Fisher. "Sure, it's a bit of a departure from the norm for trucks, but that's what Dodge is all about."