Tesla has already been sued by several of its customers after a report revealed that the electric vehicle company had lied about the ranges of its EVs. Now, the company may be in trouble with the federal government as well.
According to reporting from the Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors have opened a probe into Tesla’s alleged range-exaggerating scheme, which involved rigging its cars’ software to show an inflated range projection that would then abruptly switch to an accurate projection once the battery dipped below 50% charged. Tesla also reportedly created an entire secret “diversion team” to dissuade customers who had noticed the problem from scheduling service center appointments.
A source told Reuters that the directive to lie about Tesla’s ranges came directly from CEO Elon Musk. “Elon wanted to show good range numbers when fully charged,” the source said. “When you buy a car off the lot seeing 350-mile, 400-mile range, it makes you feel good.”
This is not the only federal probe Tesla is currently facing, either — the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has also reportedly opened an investigation into Tesla using company money to build Musk a “glass house” near Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating.
At the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features, investigating concerns that the company is now allowing drivers to use those features with no supervision. The company could face an escalating series of fines if it does not respond to the NHTSA’s questions.
All in all, the company seems to be facing quite a lot of federal scrutiny at the moment for a wide variety of alleged misconduct.
Comments on the article about the probe into the false ranges reflected some level of public mistrust of Tesla.
“‘The cars often fail to achieve their advertised range estimates.’ Color me shocked!” wrote one commenter.
“I have the Tesla Model 3 for 4 years now … Tesla advertised 310 mi range when new, actual range New is around 250 mi at typical driving speeds,” wrote another.
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