Software updates can be a boon– they often release new features, improve speed and functionality, and fix bugs. But what do you do when a software update significantly drops the maximum range of your electric vehicle? A Tesla software update back in May seems to have done just that, and owners are far from happy. One owner was so upset with the Tesla battery issue that they have just filed a lawsuit.
Tesla Battery Capacity Reduction Lawsuit
The class-action lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Tesla owner David Rasmussen claims that Tesla committed fraud by throttling the battery capacity of older Tesla models instead of fixing a potential defective battery issue.
“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,” says the lawsuit.
The issue cropped up in May after Tesla released their 2019.16.1 and 2019.16.2 software updates. A number of owners reported via online forums that they had noticed the range of their cars dropping considerably. In particular, the problem seemed to be affecting owners of older Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles with the 85 kWh battery packs which were discontinued in 2016. These owners said that they noticed a loss of 12 to 30 miles per charge since the update. They claim that the reduction has devalued their cars, limited their available traveling distance, and forced them to recharge their vehicles more often.
Rasmussen reported a battery capacity loss of 8 kWh, which came to a loss of approximately 11 percent of his total range (about 30 miles).
Ignoring a Possible Defect
Owners like Rasmussen have begun to question whether the software update was merely a way for Tesla to sweep a potential problem under the rug. Battery degradation does not seem to have been much of a problem prior to the software update. Previously reported data shows a loss of less than 10 percent of the energy capacity of Tesla battery packs within the first 160,000 miles.
So what did happen earlier this year? A surge in Tesla battery fires.
Tesla could have informed its clients about a possible fire risk and made arrangements to recall the faulty batteries. Instead, the electric car company rolled out a software update that would artificially reduce the amount of charge the older batteries would be able to accept, or so the lawsuit claims.
Of course, Tesla continues to maintain that the software update was to protect the battery and improve battery longevity and that only a small percentage of owners encountered a range loss.
I guess we will have to wait and see what a judge has to say about the matter.