DOJ probing Tesla’s EV range cheating

DOJ probing Tesla’s EV range after reports of exaggerated numbers - The Verge:

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating the range of Tesla’s electric vehicles after reports surfaced that the company was relying on exaggerated numbers.

In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla said that it had “received requests for information, including subpoenas from the DOJ, regarding certain matters associated with personal benefits, related parties, vehicle range and personnel decisions.”

This follows on from a Reuters’ report earlier this year, which found Tesla was getting so many complaints about range it was cancelling appointments with its service centres for customers with the problem:

According to Reuters, there was nothing actually wrong with the vehicle’s battery. Rather, Tesla had allegedly created software to rig its driving range estimates to show a rosier picture. This led to thousands of customers seeking service appointments to figure out what was wrong with their vehicles. But because the vehicle was working as intended, Tesla’s diversion team simply canceled all the appointments.

So Tesla created software which gave a false reading of battery range, then when people spotted it, they just canceled any service to them.

It’s worth noting that when VW was caught cheating on its emissions tests by using a device to check when it was being tested and artificially improving results, it ended up being fined tens of billions of dollars.

This isn’t on quite that scale, but regulators tend to take a very dim view of cheating customers. It’s quite possible this will cost Tesla billions.

Anyone willing to bet that it will turn out this was done at Elon Musk’s insistence? And will that be the final nail in the coffin of his reputation?

Ian Betteridge @ianbetteridge