Norway is not happy with Elon Musk's Tesla.
A government council of Norway has ordered Tesla to pay $16,000 per customer (136,000 kroner) in Norway for throttling battery charging speeds, according to a Nettavisen report.
It turns out one of Tesla's software updates in 2019 negatively impacted the battery life in Tesla Model S vehicles assembled between 2013 and 2015, which instigated a complaint from dozens of Norwegian Tesla owners, directed to the Scandinavian nation's conciliation council. The update reportedly lowered the range and slowed charging speeds in Tesla's Supercharger network.
Tesla has yet to comment or file a reply, which left the verdict to fall in favor of the plaintiffs on April 29.
As of writing, Tesla has not replied to requests for comment from IE, which is expected since the company's PR team was dismantled. Regardless, we will update if the company sends a statement.
A council in Norway has ordered Tesla to pay damages
The all-electric automaker has been ordered to pay a $16,000 settlement to every Tesla owner in the complaint, which could include 10,000 people, going by the number of Model S vehicles sold in the relevant period. That's a lot of money. The order was placed on May 17, which gives Tesla until only May 30 to pay up. If it doesn't want to, Tesla is free to file an appeal with the Oslo-based council, according to the Nettavision report.
Predictably, this isn't the only complaint naming Tesla. U.S. customers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the EV manufacturer, citing slowed charging speeds in older models. Filed in Northern California's federal court, the file accuses Tesla of fraud, and wants class-action status for the owners of older vehicles, since their range has decreased, at times by a substantial difference of 40 miles.
It may interest you to know that Norway is one of the largest all-electric vehicle markets on Earth, with battery EVs constituting more than half of all cars sold in 2020 in the country. Tesla was number one in sales in Norway for several years, but recently lost ground to Volkswagen, which now stands above it in sales. Major tax incentives are in place to ensure those in Norway may safely achieve the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2025.
All-electric mass-market vehicles are still a nascent invention
Tesla has a long history of lawsuits, both directed at and originating from the company. In 2019, the family of a Tesla crash victim sued the company, alleging the Model X's Autopilot was defective and blaming the defect for the death of Walter Huang (also known as Wei Lun Huang), which happened when the car hit a median on Highway 101 in Mountain View. Musk replied to the lawsuit in a blog post that claimed Huang had "received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver's hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision."
Musk also said the Autopilot "unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists." But the controversy surrounding Tesla's Autopilot hasn't ceased, with two men dead in a crash initially associated with the self-driving system in April of this year. Tesla's website clearly warns drivers that its "Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous." While dissatisfaction with Tesla's all-electric vehicles isn't solely focused on problems with such grim ends, it's difficult to say whether the company, the outsized expectations of drivers, or both, are to blame for diminished battery life and reduced range. EVs have been around for decades, but the mass-market rollout is still in its nascent stages. Both driver and engineering errors are to be expected — but it's still frustrating (and tragic) when humans, or even their modest bank accounts, are left footing the bill.