When Dodge announced that it would produce the Durango Hellcat, it was described as a one-year limited-release model. Describing the vehicle with this language implies that you have one opportunity to purchase the vehicle new. If you do not order it at this time, your only future ownership option is purchasing a used vehicle.
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When Dodge promoted the 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat, it used phrases that implied this was your only chance to buy the vehicle. Terms like “one shot” and “one year only” were commonly thrown around. The vehicle was heavily pitched on exclusivity and limited supply. You can see it for yourself here in a Live Media Event with CEO Kuniskis. Skip to 16:25 to hear the relevant claims.
There were long explanations about limited production numbers, COVID-19 impacting manufacturing difficulties, and environmental law changes. It was explained that after the 2021 production year, Dodge would not be able to produce the Hellcat again.
Then, in 2023, Dodge announced it would produce another year of Durango Hellcats. This did not sit well with the current owners. They thought they had bought a vehicle that would never be produced again. Instead, Dodge was changing the rules of the game after it had already started.
Seven original Dodge Durango Hellcat owners were mad enough about the situation that they filed a class-action lawsuit. They are asking for damages in excess of $5 million. The lawsuit claims that Dodge used “false and deceptive advertising and marketing” when promoting the 2021 Durango Hellcat. One of the main pieces of evidence is a statement by Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis in a promotional video.
“The Hellcat Durango will be a single-model-year run. When we turn the order books over to the ’22 model year, the Durango Hellcat will be gone. So you’ve only got one shot [to buy one].” This was not the only time Mr. Kuniskis made similar statements during press interviews and meetings. There is also a quote from a Dodge press release:
The 2021 Durango Hellcat is only a single-model-year run, ensuring that it will be a very special, sought-after performance SUV for years to come. Based on anticipated demand, all dealer allocations have already been reserved, but there is still some time to secure an unsold dealer order.Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis
The Other Side of the Story
While the marketing materials may have implied one thing. Kuniskis did make some comments that should have implied that the Durango Hellcat would not be treated like a precious and rare diamond. He told Muscle Cars and Trucks that it would not be a limited edition serialized vehicle. Dodge also claimed that the limited number was purely because of COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time. That the low number would not be permanent if the restrictions were lifted.
Dodge also has a history of claiming they will only do something once or never do something again, only to go back on their word. So, one could argue that true fans of the manufacturer should be accustomed to this type of behavior.
Our Stance on the Dodge Durango Hellcat Lawsuit
While we are not a part of this lawsuit, it will be interesting to see what becomes of it in the coming years. We are the original owners who ordered our Hellcat directly from the factory. So, if they manage to negotiate a settlement or successfully with their lawsuit, we should qualify. However, my experience with the legal system tells me that it will be a long time before anything comes from this, if at all. You can read the full lawsuit claim here.
Ford Motor Co Roush Stage 3 BlackJack Lawsuit
Dodge is not the only vehicle manufacturer to get in trouble for making exclusivity claims. In 2007, Ford produced a limited edition modified Ford Mustang called the Roush Stage 3 BlackJack. Ford advertised that there would only be 100 of the vehicles made. Except owners accused the manufacturer of making 100 more vehicles in 2008. About 100 people were named in the class action lawsuit that sought over $12 million in damages. After doing some case docket searching, I found nothing indicating this lawsuit was successful. But that does not mean there wasn’t a private settlement agreement.
BMW E28 M5 Lawsuit
In 1991, a group of owners sued BMW for making more cars than was initially promised. When BMW announced the E28 M5 in 1986, the production limit was 500 cars. This limited edition number was printed in the US marketing material. Except that isn’t what happened. BMW ended up producing 1,200 cars. Owners sued BMW, claiming that the exclusivity value of their vehicles were diminished because BMW made more than they promised. The case was settled with owners getting a $4,000 certificate (transferable to anyone) that could be applied to purchasing or leasing a new BMW.
While this is technically a win for the owners, it is a bit disappointing. They really got nothing. The only way to recoup this compensation is to buy or lease ANOTHER BMW. While the certificate is transferable, the cash value of selling it would be less than the face value. However, I guess something is still better than nothing.
Can Manufacturers and Lawsuits
Time will tell if the Dodge Durango Hellcat owners are successful in their pursuit of compensation. From a legal perspective, I understand their point of false advertising. As a Hellcat owner, I sympathize with their frustrations of thinking they were buying one thing, only to have Dodge go back on their word. However, as an adult in the real world, I say move. Sure, it’s disappointing and frustrating. However, life isn’t fair, and sometimes things don’t work out perfectly or the way you want them to. In the grand scheme of life, I don’t think a few statements made by an ego-driven CEO during press meetings is going to impact someone’s buying decision or the long term value of a particular vehicle.