Tesla is once again in the spotlight (and the courts) after its over-the-air software updates allegedly slashed the amount of range on offer for some Model S and X owners – necessitating expensive repairs in some cases.

    A class action lawsuit filed last week in California alleges recent over-the-air software updates cut driving range in some cars by at least 20 per cent, according to Fortune.

    Plaintiffs allege updates downloaded between March 2022 and March 2023 are to blame for the drops in driving range.

    “Car owners will be compelled to pay a third party a significant fee ($500-$750) to reverse the software update so that the car owners could continue to experience the battery performance they had before the update,” the suit alleges.

    The plaintiffs allege the updates rendered some batteries “inoperable”, forcing owners to “purchase a new battery at a cost of up to $15,000”. Some owners are also reporting significantly lower charge speeds than before the update.

    Owners were not given a choice whether to apply the changes, nor given any information about what the update will actually do, according to the lawsuit.

    The lawsuit alleges the cars are “protected computers” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the update therefore violates owners’ rights.

    “Tesla owners connect to Tesla directly via Wi-Fi from their homes or businesses, and Tesla can then push software updates onto the vehicles, without the opportunity to consent to the updates or ask questions about the updates,” the lawsuit says.

    “And Plaintiffs certainly did not consent to updates that harm the performance of their vehicles.”

    This isn’t the first time Tesla’s software updates have put it in the firing line; the company in 2021 paid US$1.9 million to settle a suit alleging a 2019 update lowered the battery voltage and cut range in more than 1700 examples of the Model S and Model X.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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