Tesla Wildly Overestimated Range and Turned Deaf Ear to Complaints, Allege Reuters

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

tesla wildly overestimated range and turned deaf ear to complaints allege reuters

It will surprise precisely zero of our readers to learn that some carmakers apply optimistic range estimates to their electric vehicles. Prior to EVs taking the stage, it also wasn’t uncommon – especially prior to changes in methods at the EPA – for cars with internal combustion powertrains to bear outsized fuel economy ratings thanks to twisted testing protocols.

But, if allegations by Reuters are correct, Tesla went further than that. A lot further.

According to the investigative report, Tesla allegedly not only overstated the total all-electric driving range of their cars but created a so-called ‘Diversion Team’ whose task was to cancel service appointments related to range complaints. If reports are correct, workers assigned to this team would apparently celebrate each cancelled appointment with applause and the striking of a xylophone, prompting this author to see images of Glengarry Glen Ross or Wolf of Wall Street environments flash in front of his eyes. Or Section 31 from Star Trek, your call.

Interviews conducted with people purportedly holding in-the-know information about this ‘Diversion Team’ office describe activities which may make even those fictional characters blush. It is said the crew had a target of closing 750 cases per week, with agents at one point instructed to call a complainant once and close the case if there was no answer. Given wide swaths of the general public tend not to pick up calls from unknown numbers, this ratio was surely quite high. 

Further, it is reported that agents were told to stop running remote diagnostics on vehicles belonging to complainants. It is alleged thousands of customers were told their car was fine by workers who had not performed any diagnostics. Sounds like the bad old days of bringing yer faulty car to a dealership only to be told “that’s normal”. If true, perhaps there’s a lot more of overlap between Tesla and the worst characteristics of legacy automakers than fanboys would like to think.

The whole investigation is detailed at this link and is worth a read. To be sure, many EV makers are often accused of exaggerated claims when it comes to driving range – but the level of subterfuge seemingly uncovered here is quite damning. 

[Image: Tesla]

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4 of 98 comments
  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Jul 28, 2023

    I work with quite a few Tesla owners. Precisely zero of them care about the car's range limitations. They are all used as commuter cars and they charge at home.

    That's the circumstance where most EVs work well. All of my Tesla-owning co-workers also have access to multiple ICE cars as well.

    What the EV manufacturers are learning is that pretty much every commuter who can charge at home, and can afford the EV premium, has already bought an EV. These customers were the low-hanging fruit. Additional sales will be much harder to get.

    Unless a massive public-charger build-out happens in the next year, or battery technology undergoes a revolutionary technical improvement, EV sales will continue to be flat for some time.

    EVs require very little maintenance and if the batteries last, there is little reason to replace an EV bought in the last 5-7 years.

    I predict lots of cash on the hoods of EVs very soon.

    • See 1 previous
    • SPPPP SPPPP on Jul 31, 2023

      "I predict lots of cash on the hoods of EVs very soon." Well, the government already put $7500 tax credit on the hood of every domestic EV. The next part of the plan is to increase the fines and compliance costs on the hood of all the ICEs, to make the EVs look better by comparison. It's already under way - see the story about GM raising objections to the next round of CAFE standards.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jul 29, 2023

    "Managers told the employees that they were saving Tesla about $1,000 for every canceled appointment, the people said. Another goal was to ease the pressure on service centers, some of which had long waits for appointments."

    The Truth: We're in startup mode; some customers have Real Issues Which Need Fixing, and you want me to spend my limited time holding hands with Nervous Nellie and Leadfoot Larry? Their vehicles are in spec; nothing to be done. Next.

    This is called "good business."

  • SCE to AUX A question nobody asks is how Tesla sells so many EVs without charge-at-home incentives.Here are some options for you:[list][*]Tesla drivers don't charge at home; they just squat at Superchargers.[/*][*]Tesla drivers are rich, so they just pay for a $2000 charger installation with the loose change in their pocket.[/*][*]Tesla drivers don't actually drive their cars much; they plug into 110V and only manage about 32 miles/day.[/*][/list]
  • SCE to AUX "Despite the EV segment having enjoyed steady growth over the past several years, sales volumes have remained flatter through 2023."Not so. How can EV sales be increasing and flatter at the same time?https://insideevs.com/news/667516/us-electric-car-sales-2023q1/Tesla and H/K/G are all up for EV sales, as are several other brands.
  • ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
  • Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."