Is Tesla Fudging Driving Range Claims?

Estimated read time 3 min read

A new report from Reuters claims Tesla has engaged in a systemic effort to overstate driving range claims for its model lineup, then cancel service appointments for customers convinced their EV had a problem. It’s the kind of scheme we’ve seen from other automakers in the past, like Ford and Hyundai, who wildly overstated fuel economy figures for vehicles to win customers. If the claims from Reuters are true, this strategy by Tesla could backfire splendidly.

See the aftermath of an EV garage fire.

Allegedly, Tesla created a “Diversion Team” based in Las Vegas whose sole purpose was to cancel service appointments for customers concerned their vehicle’s lack of range meant there was a problem with it. Anonymous sources claim the team would celebrate whenever someone talked a Tesla owner out of keeping their service appointment in a scene that almost sounds like it came straight out of The Wolf of Wall Street.

Canceling appointments apparently had a double-fold benefit for Tesla. Each cancellation saved the company money and helped reduce long wait times at service centers. And we keep hearing about EVs supposedly needing little servicing!

Worse, Reuters says a source claims Tesla vehicle range meters purposely provide “rosy” projections for how far a driver can go on a charge. The move supposedly was for positive marketing as the automaker has worked to convince people owning an EV is no less practical than a traditional car. After all, car shoppers are more likely to get a Tesla or any electric car if they believe it can go further on a single charge.

But as drivers saw the range estimate plummet to a more realistic distance after the battery fell below half its capacity, that’s created the panic among owners that something is wrong with their individual vehicle.

Lest one think this move to allegedly fudge overall range estimates would leave drivers stranded, Tesla apparently had a “safety buffer” of an additional 15 miles of range beyond the estimated total battery depletion. When someone is driving on the open road, 15 miles isn’t much, but that would be enough to get to a charger in most urban and suburban environments.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has been accused of fudging driving ranges for its electric vehicle lineup. At the beginning of 2023 the South Korean government fined Tesla $2.2 million for neglecting to tell customers that in lower temperatures driving ranges decrease significantly.

Even if only a portion of the claims Reuters published are remotely true, this could spell serious trouble for Tesla. The popularity of EVs seems to be waning somewhat, but the American automaker is pulling out quite a few stops to remain the 800 pound gorilla in the market niche, including dropping prices and even running ads.

Images via Tesla

Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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  1. 1

    I have a 2023 model Y long range. This is my third EV (2019 Bolt, 2015 Leaf). Tesla over estimates range by at least 30%. A full charge will start as around 340 miles. I have never gotten more than 220 miles even driving around town. This has nothing to do with my driving habits to only get 64% of what the Tesla shows. My bolt starts at 240 miles of range and it consistently gets between 190 – 230 miles depending on whether I use AC, heat, and my freeway driving. That’s 80% – 95% accuracy.

    Tesla is not even close to getting their driving range claims

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