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A U.S. auto manufacturer promises in writing that its vehicles will, for the life of their vehicles, receive free hydrogen at its charging stations.

Bob buys such a vehicle. Turns out the vehicle communicates with the hydrogen wells, and commands them wirelessly or otherwise that it is entitled to initiate charging without a payment method setup associated with the VIN number or other ID of the vehicle.

Turns out the vehicle, once coupled with a hydrogen well, runs computer executable instructions stored on the vehicle which will block the vehicle to open its tank for hydrogen to enter unless a payment method is added and then authenticated with the manufacturer wirelessly.

The promise, although undisclosed in such detail, related to computer executable instructions which coupled with the vehicle which coupled with a hydrogen well, causes the tank of the vehicle to open and allow the pooring/blowing of hydrogen inside the vehicle. (It also communicates with the well to open ordinarily)

The written promise was related to the workmanship of the vehicle in connection with its software and hardware components.

Was a warranty created?

Was a warranty created even if the manufacturer failed to clearly and in readily understood language disclose what it was going to do in case of malfunction or defect with the vehicle relating to its ability to cause a hydrogen well to open and start filling up?

Is this a warranty?

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  • Are you asking if this is a warranty or a guarantee- they aren’t the same thing and it’s probably neither
    – Dale M
    Jul 6 at 8:22
  • @Dale M I want to know if this is a warranty in the sense that the manufacturer must repair the vehicle
    – HJay
    Jul 6 at 14:59
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    @George White Yeah, I think that would be the most plausible reading. But with gas, a promise of free gas is a promise of a service provided. You plug the nozzle in, press the lever, and it starts pouring. The car is passive. Here, it is probably a short line of code or integer that prevents the car from doing what it is warranted: Obtain hydrogen by simply plugging in, I am curious to see what the big guns will have to say
    – kisspuska
    Jul 6 at 16:22
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    If it was an oil mining structure, we would probably not argue much. But because it relates to something so elusive like software code, we might be missing the actual substance of the promise which does seem to relate to the workmanship of the product. The generalized question here really is: Are the computer executable instructions substantive enough to relate to the workmanship of a consumer goods? Computer program product, systems and/or methods as matters of utility patents come to my mind thinking of this
    – kisspuska
    Jul 6 at 16:26
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    This makes no sense "which will not block the vehicle to open its tank for hydrogen", it sounds as if you were interrupted in the middle of rewriting the sentence. Did you perhaps mean "will not permit the vehicle to open its tank" or "will prevent the vehicle from opening its tank" ?
    – Ben Voigt
    Jul 11 at 14:37
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A U.S. auto manufacturer promises in writing that its vehicles will, for the life of their vehicles, receive free hydrogen at its charging stations. . . . The written promise was related to the workmanship of the vehicle in connection with its software and hardware components.

Was a warranty created?

It sounds like there were two separate promises. A promise to provide free hydrogen (which is a contractual obligation, although not a warranty) which amounts to prepayment of hydrogen, and a warranty that the vehicle had adequate workmanship in software and hardware components.

Was a warranty created even if the manufacturer failed to clearly and in readily understood language disclose what it was going to do in case of malfunction or defect with the vehicle relating to its ability to cause a hydrogen well to open and start filling up?

Whether this is a breach of the agreement to provide free hydrogen, or a breach of the warranty agreement that the vehicle's recharging feature would work properly, or both, taken together it is a breach of contract by the automobile manufacturer. There were agreements, and taken as a whole, those agreements as reasonably interpreted in light of the intent of the parties and construing against the drafter of the agreements, were breached.

Therefore, you should be entitled to the damages for breach of contract as measured by the benefit of the bargain test applicable to contracts. Most likely, repair of the defeat at the cost of the manufacturer and reimbursement of money you had to spend on hydrogen due to the defect.

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A U.S. auto manufacturer promises in writing that its vehicles will, for the life of their vehicles, receive free hydrogen at its charging stations.

Was a warranty created?

No, and it creates no obligation to provide maintenance for free either.

The exact wording of the writing might make a difference, but the promise of free hydrogen does not imply a promise of free maintenance of modules & mechanisms for storage or processing of fuel. There is no support in your description for the presumption that "The written promise was related to the workmanship of the vehicle in connection with its software and hardware components".

In line with the analogy George White formulated, going to one of the manufacturer's charging stations is a requirement the customer needs to satisfy in order to exercise his entitlement to free hydrogen. Customer's inability to do so does not extend the scope of manufacturer's promise.

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  • I update the actual way it works, it wasn't well described initially!
    – HJay
    Jul 11 at 3:34
  • This is clearly a failure of design, not of owner maintenance. The software is not a user-serviceable part, nor one expected to wear out with use.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jul 11 at 14:32
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I second ohwilleke's succinct analysis, and would like to support it from at least the warranty angle under a reading of the U.C.C. in California:

“It is important to note . . . that even statements of opinion can become warranties under the code if they become part of the basis of the bargain.” (Hauter v. Zogarts (1975) 14 Cal.3d 115, fn. 10 [120 Cal.Rptr. 681, 534 P.2d 377].)

Furthermore,

“The basis of the bargain requirement represents a significant change in the law of warranties. Whereas plaintiffs in the past have had to prove their reliance upon specific promises made by the seller, the Uniform Commercial Code requires no such proof.” (Hauter v. Zogarts (1975) 14 Cal.3d 115, fn. 8 [120 Cal.Rptr. 681, 534 P.2d 377].), internal citations omitted.)

I also think, even if an express warranty would be found difficult to be substantiated, the promise implies the "ordinary use" of the consumer goods, and therefore, if nothing else, an implied warranty of merchantability may have been created under, for e.g. U.C.C., Magnuson-Moss or the specific States "lemon law", if any, applicable.

Such a warranty may actually provide stronger protections than an express warranty, for example under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, the lemon law of California per the following:

"The [Song Beverly] act provides for both express and implied warranties, and while under a manufacturer’s express warranty the buyer must allow for a reasonable number of repair attempts within 30 days before seeking rescission, that is not the case for the implied warranty of merchantability’s bulwark against fundamental defects.” (Brand v. Hyundai Motor America (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1538, 1545 [173 Cal.Rptr.3d 454]”

None of the above may apply in any other states other than in California, but may help give a general insight of how courts may choose to treat U.C.C., Magnuson-Moss and other lemon statutes.

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  • FYI: the poster of the question you just commented on is a known troll who's posted these questions many times (see, for example, here, here, here, etc.). I'd recommend just flagging it as Rude/abusive to get it deleted (6 such flags will automatically remove the post).
    – Ryan M
    Jul 31 at 3:20

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