Toyota Kenya is facing a major lawsuit after buyers of its buses and trucks moved to court, seeking a stop the sale of its vehicles locally on claims that the buses are faulty.
The joint lawsuit has been filed as a product liability claim by City Star Shuttle Co. Ltd, Beauty Wholesale (K) Ltd, Chania Prestige Shuttle Ltd, Martin Mwangi Njoki, Mungai Kinuthia, Nancy Nyambura Githuku, Peter Kamau Ng’ang’a, Ruth Wangui Korio, Peter Maina Njuguna, Charles Njoroge Ng’ang’a, and George Nguku Njihia.
They claim the vehicles supplied by Toyota Kenya’s local dealer, Nairobi Hino, developed serious mechanical problems a few months after purchase.
One particular Toyota brand, the Hino FC500, is said to have developed fatal engine and overheating problems, brake system failures and chassis cracking, even before expiry of their warranties.
“No brand new vehicles develop such a multiplicity of problems resulting in total grounding, even lack of spare parts replacement, without a manufacturer’s defect. Toyota Kenya had capped the warranty at 100,000 kilometres or 36 months, whichever was earlier,” argue the buyers in their court filing.
Toyota is yet to respond to the case, which comes up for hearing today before Justice Francis Tuiyott, who on Wednesday certified the matter urgent and ordered the buyers to serve the vehicle manufacturer with the suit papers.
Nairobi Hino Ltd took back the buses and trucks for repair, but in some cases, such as that for Mr Mwangi, the buses have not been released for lack of replacement parts, yet Tsusho Capital Kenya Ltd, financing the purchase of the public service buses, still demands the settlement of the loans.
The buyers have also sued the Kenya Bureau of Standards and Tsusho Capital Kenya, a financier affiliate of Toyota Kenya.
Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui for the vehicle owners says the loans under the asset financing facility agreement the buyers took with Tsusho Capital Kenya and other financiers for the purchase of the Hino FC500 model truck and PSV buses have escalated and piled up, as they were originally purchased to be cargo haulage and public transport vehicles, with regular income to repay the debt, but now bring no income.
“Since the inability of Toyota Kenya, and Nairobi Hino Ltd, to resolve these patent engine problems with the Hino FC500 model has made the vehicles’ commercial viability totally impossible, the resultant grounding of these PSV buses has thus triggered a default with Tsusho Capital Kenya, which it has become deaf to, totally against the principles of equity,” says lawyer Kinyanjui in court documents.
The buyers complain that Toyota Kenya demanded millions in repair costs yet the trucks and the PSV buses had done less than 20,000 kilometres, under warranties.