A Tesla battery range loss lawsuit alleges software updates created to protect Model S and Model X vehicles from fires, in reality, caused reductions in the maximum battery capacity and travel range by 20 to 40 miles.
The proposed Model S and Model X class-action lawsuit was filed by California plaintiff David Rasmussen, owner of a 2014 Tesla Model S 85 he purchased used from a private third-party seller.
Rasmussen says the car had about 32,000 miles on it when he purchased it and currently has about 137,000 miles on the odometer.
According to the lawsuit, Tesla harmed Model S and Model X customers in an effort to prevent battery fires, all by installing a "thermal management safety update" to “protect the battery and improve [its] longevity.”
Tesla allegedly issued software updates to all Model S and Model X vehicles about a month after the automaker investigated a fire that occurred in China. Customers were told the updates were performed “out of an abundance of caution,” but the updates changed settings in the battery management software related to charging and thermal controls.
“As we continue our investigation of the root cause, out of an abundance of caution, we are revising charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air software update that will begin rolling out Aug. 8, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity,” according to a Tesla statement.
But the plaintiff claims Tesla concealed knowledge the software update was allegedly used "to avoid its duties and legal obligations to customers to fix, repair, or replace the batteries of the Class Vehicles, all of which Tesla knew were defective, yet failed to inform its customers of the defects."
Tesla also allegedly failed to inform customers of the consequences of the software updates: Reduced battery range capabilities, longer times to charge the battery and an overall decrease in vehicle value.
According to the lawsuit, Tesla committed fraud by manipulating software in various ways. The plaintiff claims the automaker placed an artificial software-induced limitation on the total number of usable kilowatt-hours (kWh).