Tesla rigs driving range algorithm

Occurred: July 2023

Tesla has been rigging the dashboard readouts in its electric cars to provide 'rosy' projections of how far owners can drive before needing to recharge, a Reuters investigation revealed

The carmaker went on create a special 'Diversion' team in Nevada in 2022 to cancel owners’ service appointments after a deluge of complaints regarding its driving range capalities and misleading marketing claims.

Reuters cited a whistleblower who revealed that around 2012 Elon Musk directed to Tesla create an algorithm that exaggerated its vehicles’ driving distance so that its range meter that would show car drivers optimistic projections for the distance it could travel on a full battery. When the battery fell below 50% of its maximum charge, the algorithm would allegedly show drivers more realistic projections for their remaining driving range.

Class-action lawsuit

In August 2023, three California-based Tesla owners sued the company in a proposed class action that accuses the company of falsely advertising the estimated driving ranges of its electric vehicles. The suit, which cited the Reuters investigation, alleges Tesla breached vehicle warranties and engaged in fraud and unfair competition. 

Automatic software updates

In May 2023, a group of Tesla owners filed a class-action lawsuit (pdf) against the company for providing automatic software updates that are said to kill their electric vehicles’ batteries by decreasing driving range or causing battery failures, allegedly reducing driving range by 20 percent and forcing some owners to replace the battery pack for USD $15,000.

Low temperature driving range

In January 2023, Tesla was fined 2.85 billion won ($2.2 million) by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) for failing to tell its customers about the shorter driving range of its EVs in low temperatures. The regulator said it had found that the driving range of Tesla cars drop in cold weather by up to 50.5% versus how they are advertised online, which constituted false and exaggerated advertising.

Operator: Tesla
Developer: Tesla
Country: USA; S Korea
Sector: Automotive
Purpose: Estimate driving range
Technology: Range estimate algorithm
Issue: Purpose; Values/culture/ethics
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Complaints/appeals; Marketing

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: July 2023