Tesla Flings Cash at 126 Norwegians to Settle Low-horsepower Lawsuit
For a company that prides itself on clean performance, a massive lawsuit and public claims of less-than-advertised power wasn’t great PR.
Tesla just swept an annoying bit of litigation into the dustbin of history by promising a different kind of green to 126 Norwegian owners, all the while claiming it did nothing wrong.
According to Reuters, both the car company and owners have agreed to withdraw the case. The suit, filed in September, alleged the dual-motor P85D’s performance didn’t measure up to its advertised 691-horsepower capability.
At the time of sale, Tesla advertised the combined capability of the P85D’s both motors — 467 in the rear, 224 in the front — though actual output can vary. This is what the litigants were after. Many claimed the vehicle’s actual horsepower fell short of the company’s claims, and performance suffered for it.
In its defense, Tesla was able to point to independent acceleration tests that matched company claims. The automaker also said the power figures were confirmed by European regulators.
In a blog post created in September, 2015, Tesla delved into the confusing world of combined electric motor horsepower figures:
With the shaft horsepower coming out of the motors the situation is not always as simple as front + rear. As we have pushed the combined motor horsepower higher and higher, the amount of times where the battery chemical horsepower is lower than the combined motor horsepower has increased.
The Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv reported that each owner stands to receive 65,000 Norwegian crowns, which works out to about $7,700. That’s about half of what the litigants hoped to gain through the lawsuit. However, it’s very close to the sum Tesla paid to five Norwegian P85D owners in June, at the request of the Norway Consumer Disputes Commission.
[Image: 410(k) 2012/ Flickr ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]
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Let's clarify a few facts. 1) The European standard that Tesla used to test with is a preliminary, still not approved or finalized EV testing standard put out by The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) called ECE R85. This standard allows the electric drivetrain to be tested with an external unlimited power supply. It's used to rate what the electric drive units can produce while installed in the chassis. Under this testing standard, the dual drive units can produce 691 hp. This was later upgraded to 763 hp. But the crucial thing is that this is NOT the power the car produces with the shipping battery. The shipping battery in the P85D was capable of driving the DUs to a combined 463 hp at the motor shafts in Insane mode. The Ludicrous upgrade bumped that to 532. This resulted in JB Straubel's famous blog post https://www.tesla.com/blog/tesla-all-wheel-drive-dual-motor-power-and-torque-specifications where he explains that battery power varies with temperature, state of charge, etc, that it was too confusing to try and specify horsepower the normal way, so they used this standard that specified motor power without taking into account the limitation posed by the shipping battery. The problem is that 691 hp spec, which they later lowered to 463 is 228 hp more than the maximum power that the P85D could actually produce under even the most ideal circumstances. Later, the P100D, with the exact same drive units, but a much more powerful battery, can now nearly reach the original 691 HP claim. 2) The article says "though actual output can vary". This is true, it can and does vary, but a P85D not upgraded to Ludicrous can't exceed 463 motor shaft hp but it can certainly be a lot lower. The 463 number can only be achieved at a > 90% with the battery heated to the optimal temperature for maximum horsepow(usually by using the max battery setting unless you've just supercharged in which case you'll be good to go). 3) The acceleration claims from 0-60 were never in question here in the US...for the most part.....but the original 3.2(later dropped to 3.1 with a software update) 0-60 claims were with the 1 ft rollout that many testing magazines in the US use. That's fine, but the P85D was the only Tesla where they used the 1ft rollout. All other Tesla variants quoted 0-60 times that were achievable without using the rollout. Only the P85D had to use the 1ft rollout to achieve it's claim. The problem is Tesla never specified whether they were using the 1ft rollout so folks were comparing times with the P85D with other Tesla variants thinking they were comparing apples to apples when they weren't. Tesla never made acceleration claims for 50-70 and 70-90 with the P85D but acceleration in those brackets was exactly what a 463 hp car that weighs 5000 lbs would produce. The problem is, had the car really produced 691 hp, the 70-90 times would have been closer to 2.0 seconds rather than 3.0 seconds.