“Understanding that this [range] would be an important feature (if not the most important feature) to many customers, and preying on this fact,” the suit argues, “Tesla marketed its electric vehicles as having a grossly overvalued range in an effort to increase sales numbers.”
Representatives for Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. The company stopped responding to press inquiries in 2020.
South Korean regulators in January fined Tesla $2.2 million for exaggerating the range of its vehicles in cold weather.
Last week, Reuters published an investigation that found “Tesla employees had been instructed to thwart any customers complaining about poor driving range from bringing their vehicles in for service.” The company created a secretive “Diversion Team” to cancel customer appointment requests to examine battery range, Reuters reported, citing several unnamed sources.
Tesla algorithms show drivers “rosy” estimates of their driving range until the battery power falls below 50 percent, Reuters reported, when more accurate readings kick in. The lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses CEO Elon Musk of “directly” ordering the use of overly optimistic algorithms.
Reuters said its findings about Tesla’s advertised driving ranges and battery projections were verified by three automotive experts who studied or tested the vehicles.
The lawsuit, which cites the Reuters story, argues that if drivers had known that Tesla vehicles did not travel as far on a single charge, customers would not have purchased the vehicles or would have paid substantially less for them.
Tesla is widely considered by auto experts to be the consumer automaker with the best EV driving range across all models. Car and Driver ranked four Tesla vehicles among its Top 10 longest-range electric cars for 2023; no other brand had more than one model on the list.
The suit against Tesla is the second legal action against Musk’s business empire in as many days. In addition to being CEO of two companies, Tesla and SpaceX, Musk owns Twitter, which he recently rebranded as “X.”
International news agency Agence France-Presse sued Twitter in European court for refusing to compensate AFP for use of its news product on social media, which is mandatory in much of Europe.