Magazine article Consumers' Research Magazine

Consumer Notes

Magazine article Consumers' Research Magazine

Consumer Notes

Article excerpt

GM Sues Over Electric Car

General Motors has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate California's requirements for automakers to sell zero-emission cars, reports The Wall Street Journal. The automaker charges that the California Air Resources Board, in setting California's new requirements, violated state laws requiring regulations to be reasonable and prudent. This past January, the Board passed a rule requiring each automaker to sell enough zero-emission--meaning electric--cars by 2003 to comprise 2% of their sales. (See "Consumer Notes," CR, February 2001)

GM contends that the requirements would force it to produce an impractical product that would produce only a very small improvement in air quality and that would lead to small, slow and unsafe cars, much like golf carts, on the state's roads. GM says that the Board refused to consider more reasonable options such as hybrid cars powered by a mix of gasoline and electricity instead of all-electric cars.

Even though other automakers have been lobbying California to ease the electric-car-selling mandate, GM is the only major automaker to sue California over the standards. Proponents of the new rules are citing this fact as evidence of the weakness of GM's position. Ford has already said it would comply with the requirements, and Toyota issued a statement saying it had no intention of joining the lawsuit.

Propane Dealer Not on the Level

A propane retailer charged its customers higher prices than it originally promised them, allege the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. The states have each taken separate legal actions against the company, Level Propane, reports the National Association of Attorneys General.

Kentucky has reached a settlement with the propane supplier over charges of poor service, failure to honor quoted prices, unauthorized sales tax charges and charging fees not disclosed to consumers. The settlement requires Level Propane to pay restitution to customers and $25,000 for the state's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Ohio has filed a lawsuit alleging that Level Propane refused to disclose the cost of propane until after the tanks were filled and the bills were mailed, failed to honor guarantees on promised prices, failed to make timely delivery of propane to customers, and failed to state clearly in its ads all the conditions of its offers. Ohio also alleges that Level Propane deceived consumers by telling them its prices were the "lowest" available when in fact its prices were significantly higher than those of its competitors. …

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