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Tesla owner sues the carmaker over a software update that reduces vehicle range

The plaintiff says Tesla is reducing how far cars can drive on a full charge to avoid a recall

Photo (c) Sjo - Getty Images
Tesla has had its share of headaches in recent months and here’s another one: a Tesla owner has filed a lawsuit claiming the company used a software update to limit the range of his vehicle to avoid a costly recall.

The plaintiff, who is seeking class action status, owns an older Model S and claims the software update reduced the range of his vehicle and many others by 40 miles. The plaintiff points to the forum to suggest other owners are having the same problem.

We checked and found a poster going by the handle Dutchmeeuw reporting in early June that his Model S lost approximately 20 kilometers of charging after the update.

“At the 12th of May I was able to charge to 399km at 100 percent charge,” the owner wrote. “Two days ago the max charge has dropped to 379km all of a sudden. Temperatures at both charge times were around 18 degrees Celsius. Called Tesla and they’re telling me the car logs show battery degradation and saying this is normal.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to media requests for comment. Companies rarely comment on pending legal issues.

Preventive measure

Tesla initiated the software update after investigating reports that a Model S sold in Hong Kong caught fire. To be on the safe side, the company said it was revising the charge and thermal management setting. The goal, Tesla said, was to protect batteries and extend their longevity.

Tesla has said that it is working to improve how the update is executed, acknowledging that a small group of owners might have experienced a reduction in range. The plaintiff, obviously, has a different view.

“Under the guise of ‘safety’ and increasing the ‘longevity’ of the batteries of the class vehicles, Tesla fraudulently manipulated its software with the intent to avoid its duties and legal obligations to customers to fix, repair, or replace the batteries of the Class Vehicles, all of which Tesla knew were defective, yet failed to inform its customers of the defects,” the plaintiff’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, an Arizona newspaper reports that less range was actually beneficial. It reports that a woman stole a Tesla Model S and was eluding police when the battery ran down. Police reportedly broke a window to remove her from the vehicle and placed her under arrest.

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