Tesla Owners Sue After Software Update Slashes Their Range

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Tesla owners are passionate about their vehicles, especially when it comes to all the cool things they can do compared to other EVS. It wasn’t surprising to see them sue the automaker in 2016 over claims that a new software update limited their driving range, though it’s a little surprising to see it happening again in 2023. 

Electrek reported that the lawsuit includes claims that some owners saw their range drop by as much as 20 percent. Language in the suit said that “when car owners purchase their vehicles, they reasonably expect that unforeseen events – like weather, accidents, or flat tires – may impact the performance of their vehicles and lead to costly repairs. But no reasonable consumer would expect that the car manufacturer itself, through an automated system, would deliberately and significantly interfere with the car’s performance through software updates that reduce the operating capacity of the vehicles.”

Despite being part of the same company that issued the software update, owners reported that Tesla service advised them that they needed a battery replacement with costs of up to $15,000. However, given Tesla’s lack of a PR department and the apparent inability to communicate changes to customers ahead of making them, it’s not that surprising to see hear.

This is an interesting situation because it’s likely that other automakers will need to make software changes that impact range at some point. Tesla’s difficulties pushing through these updates will be a warning to others, but it’s hard to imagine we won’t hear similar cases, or at least owner complaints, going forward. 

[Image: Tesla]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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3 of 38 comments
  • Collin Collin on May 16, 2023

    That’s my point: Tesla is either too dumb or malicious to cover what you just said in their warranty. My best guess is the latter cause they’re trying to shift blame to the customers for battery degradation and get out of paying for the replacement, not to mention the negative press and reviews that would incite. And that isn’t to say other manufacturers wouldn’t do the same, they’re just smarter about how they handle it.

  • Stuart de Baker Stuart de Baker on May 28, 2023

    This is very interesting information. I was in no danger of buying a Tesla. I love my '08 Civic (stick), and it feels just as responsive as when I bought it 11 years ago with 35k on the clock (now 151k), and barring mishaps, I plan to keep it for the next 25 years or so, which would put me into my mid-90s, assuming I live that long.

    On your information, I will avoid renting Teslas.

    • Don't Don't on Jun 25, 2023

      No worries you'll likely outlive it at your current mileage rate.

  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.
  • ToolGuy New Hampshire