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Tesla Owner Sues Company For Alleged Battery Fraud

A Tesla owner has filed a suit against the carmaker claiming the company used a software update to deliberately reduce the battery range of his vehicle in an attempt to avoid a recall due to faults in these batteries.

Reuters reports the suit was filed earlier this week, with the plaintiff seeking class action status on the grounds that “thousands” of other owners of older Model S and X cars could have been affected. In some cases, according to the allegations, the range reduction came in at as much as 40 miles.

“A very small percentage of owners of older Model S and Model X vehicles may have noticed a small reduction in range when charging to a maximum state of charge following a software update designed to improve battery longevity,” the company said in response to the allegations, as quoted by Reuters.

The software update the plaintiffs and other Tesla owners are blaming for the batteries’ range reduction was released in May and drivers complained online that this devalued the cars they had bought for more money and supposedly longer range.

“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,” according to the lawsuit.

This is a change in the usual negative news about Tesla, which focuses on its production and delivery performance and cash-burning habit. Its autopilot system has also been blamed for a few accidents, which have prompted legal action. The battery range issue, though obviously not new, opens up another venue for unhappy customers to vent their unhappiness with the company.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Andy Miles on August 10 2019 said:
    The article is somewhat short on facts, so it is hard to say what the real situation is. To me it seems like ignorance on the part of the owner in not understanding how EV batteries work. All EVs have a total kWh capacity and a useable kWh capacity figure quoted for the batteries. A Nissan LEAF, for example has a 24kWh capacity but a 22kWh useable capacity. This does not mean that the owner has been robbed of 2 kWh of capacity. It is the normal practice.

    It is long established that Li-ion batteries will last for substantially more charge/discharge cycles if not allowed to fall below 20%, and charged to only 80%. That is a matter for the owner, but the manufacturer also sets the battery management software so that the battery will be charged to no more than, say 95%, or fall below around 5%. This "buffer", is fixed by the software in the car, and to some extent you could say that it lies to people by calling the 95% "100% charged", and calling the 5% "Empty".

    It is that buffering that accounts for the useable kWh figure being lower. How much lower is a matter for the manufacturer to decide. A bigger buffer will give increased longevity, and a smaller buffer increased range. The unique feature of Tesla cars is that Tesla updates its software over the air, so features are constantly changed and added, and the car improved. This also includes the buffering software in the battery management system, and so Tesla, unlike other manufacturers are able to make changes to the buffering. The owner has not been robbed of anything, but given a battery that will last longer. Other manufacturers have to make a best guess at what is the best buffering, but Tesla is gaining data from every Tesla car on the road, and so, is able to reassess the ideal level of buffering. They have reset it.

    I doubt very much that there is any "fault" in the battery, as stated in this article. It seems more likely that the ideal buffering has simply been reassessed and reset. I would imagine that if the individual wants the reset cancelled, it can easily be done, but he would then be losing the increase in longevity that he had gained.

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