Lawsuit By Tesla Owners Allege False Range Claims

Tesla is being targetted by three owners in California, who accuse the firm of falsely advertising the estimated driving ranges of its electric vehicles (EVs).

Reuters reported that three owners have filed a proposed class lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit cited a Reuters report that came out last week, which alleged that Tesla had created a secret “Diversion Team” in Nevada to cancel as many range-related service appointments as possible with owners, after becoming inundated with complaints.

Image credit: Tesla

Range claims

An unnamed source in that Reuters report alleged that Tesla had rigged the dashboard readouts in its electric cars to provide “rosy” projections of how far owners can drive before needing to recharge.

The directive to present the optimistic range estimates allegedly came from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the source told Reuters, which could not determine whether Tesla still uses algorithms that boost range estimates.

Neither Tesla nor Musk responded to detailed questions from Reuters for last week’s article.

They did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit on Wednesday, Reuters added.

But what exactly are the disgruntled owners in California alleging?

Well according to Reuters, the lawsuit alleges Tesla breached vehicle warranties and engaged in fraud and unfair competition.

“Put simply, Tesla has a duty to deliver a product that performs as advertised,” Adam A. Edwards, an attorney at Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, the firm representing Tesla owners in the lawsuit, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The lawsuit’s three plaintiffs cite occasions when their Teslas didn’t achieve close to their advertised ranges and said they had complained to the company without success.

James Porter, a Petaluma, California-based Model Y owner, reportedly said in the lawsuit that on one trip he “lost approximately 182 miles of range – despite only driving 92 miles.”

The lawsuit states: “Had Tesla honestly advertised its electric vehicle ranges, consumers either would not have purchased Tesla model vehicles, or else would have paid substantially less for them.”

Class-action status

The complaint seeks class-action status to represent “all persons in California who purchased a new Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model Y, and Model X vehicle.”

The legal action seeks unspecified damages.

A class action lawsuit is a type of legal action that allows many people to all join together in one big claim to recover compensation for damages.

Tesla meanwhile faces multiple lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny over its Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” technology and its claims about the safety of those systems.

And in April a California Tesla owner filed a proposed consumer class action after it was reported that Tesla employees had shared on an internal messaging system sensitive images and videos captured by cars’ cameras.

The lawsuit accused Tesla of violating the privacy of its customers. Tesla has denied those allegations.

Earlier this week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was investigating a new safety issue at Tesla, after multiple complaints over loss of steering control in Model 3 and Y vehicles.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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