Tesla Owners Lose Battery Range Class Action Bid


Setback for Tesla owners, after federal judge rules legal claims over false range claims, must be pursued individually

A federal judge in the United States has denied a class action attempt by Tesla owners in their legal action alleging false range claims by the EV giant.

It was last August when three Tesla owners in California accused the Elon Musk firm of falsely advertising the estimated driving ranges of its electric vehicles (EVs).

They filed a proposed class lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, which cited a Reuters report last summer that 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
Image credit: Tesla

Range lawsuit

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, a source had told Reuters, which could not determine whether Tesla still uses algorithms that boost range estimates.

The lawsuit filed the owners in August, alleged Tesla breached vehicle warranties and engaged in fraud and unfair competition. 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.

The complaint sought 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.

No class action

But now Reuters has reported that a federal judge has ruled that the Tesla owners must pursue their claims in individual arbitrations rather than banding together in the proposed class action lawsuits.

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California reportedly said on Thursday the drivers had agreed to an arbitration provision for resolving disputes with the EV maker when they bought their vehicles.

Tesla and lawyers for the company did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.

Tesla has previously called the claims in the lawsuits “unmeritorious.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the two cases either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for one, Reuters reported.

Not dismissed

It should be noted that judge Rogers’ order did not address the merits of the drivers’ claims.

Indeed, she did not dismiss the lawsuits and said she could eventually issue an injunction against Tesla if the drivers successfully arbitrated their claims under California’s unfair competition law and other provisions.

Tesla reportedly lowered driving-range estimates across its EVs in January, as a new US government vehicle-testing regulation was implemented to ensure car makers accurately reflect real-world performance.