Tesla Rigged Range Software and Suppressed Customer Complaints, Report Says

Published on July 27, 2023 in News by The Car Guide

Tesla’s seemingly insurmountable lead in EV sales is largely attributable to the exceptional range achieved by its vehicles. However, some customers have complained that real-world range simply doesn’t match the official ratings.

According to an investigation by Reuters, the automaker even created a special “Diversion Team” to cancel owners’ service appointments because its service centres became so inundated with driving-range complaints.

Not only that, but Reuters also claims Tesla rigged the dashboard readouts in its vehicles to provide “rosy” projections of how far owners can drive before needing to recharge, particularly when the battery charge level is at 50 percent or more. The software would show more accurate range estimates when the battery dropped below 50 percent.

The directive to present the optimistic range estimates came from Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself, apparently. On the other hand, Teslas were designed with a “safety buffer,” allowing about 15 miles (24 km) of additional range even after the dash readout showed an empty battery, the investigation found.  

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Reuters could not determine whether Tesla still uses algorithms that boost in-dash range estimates. At the time the company programmed in the optimistic range projections, it was selling only the now-discontinued Roadster and the Model S.

At the beginning of the year, Tesla was fined 2.85 billion won (approx. $2.93 million CAD) in South Korea for exaggerating the "driving ranges of its cars on a single charge, their fuel cost-effectiveness compared to gasoline vehicles as well as the performance of its Superchargers" on its official website since August 2019. Local authorities also claimed driving range of Tesla cars can plunge in cold weather by up to 50.5 percent versus how they are advertised online.

In April, Tesla was sued in California after employees privately shared via an internal messaging system sometimes highly invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car cameras. These actions allegedly took place between 2019 and 2022.

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