DOJ Investigates Tesla’s Range Estimates, FSD and More

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has expanded its investigation into Tesla, focusing on the automaker’s electric vehicle (EV) range estimates, self-driving technology, personal benefits, and personnel decisions. The probe comes in response to allegations that Tesla has been exaggerating the range of its EVs, causing concern among regulators.

In a quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday, Tesla disclosed that it had received subpoenas and requests for information from the DOJ, specifically related to documents concerning Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features. The investigation has escalated beyond vehicle technology to encompass personal benefits, related parties, and personnel decisions, suggesting a comprehensive examination of the company’s operations. (via Reuters)

Separately, the Company has received requests for information, including subpoenas, from the DOJ. These have included requests for documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features. Additionally, the Company has received requests for information, including subpoenas from the DOJ, regarding certain matters associated with personal benefits, related parties, vehicle range and personnel decisions. To our knowledge no government agency in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing occurred. We cannot predict the outcome or impact of any ongoing matters. Should the government decide to pursue an enforcement action, there exists the possibility of a material adverse impact on our business, results of operation, prospects, cash flows, financial position or brand.

The issue of exaggerated range estimates surfaced earlier this year, with a report alleging that Tesla deliberately programmed its car’s computers to exaggerate the range on a single charge and even canceled service appointments for customers who complained about the inaccurate range estimates. One week after that a proposed class-action lawsuit was filed by three owners in California, alleging the automaker engaged in false advertising by providing exaggerated driving range estimates.

This is not the first time Tesla has faced allegations of overestimating its range figures. In 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency contested Musk’s claims of a testing error, resulting in a lower range estimate for the Model S sedan. In subsequent years, Tesla faced penalties in Norway and South Korea for throttling charging speed and exaggerating range capabilities in cold weather.

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