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Tesla has been accused of using software to “throttle” the charging speeds and battery capacity of its electric cars in Norway — and now faces $167 million in government-ordered payouts to angry customers.
A 2019 software update for Tesla Model S cars sold in Norway between 2013 and 2015 significantly increased the amount of time required to charge the cars’ batteries and compromised their capacity, according to complaints to government officials reported by Norwegian online newspaper Nettavisen.
In response, a court ordered Tesla to pay more than 10,000 Norwegian customers upwards of $16,400 each over the hassles. If Tesla does not appeal the ruling, the company will be on the hook for a total of $167 million at the end of this month, according to the outlet.
The court ruling is reminiscent of allegations by a group of American Tesla owners who sued the company in 2019, saying that it limited vehicles’ battery range to avoid having to recall defective batteries. In that case, which is still ongoing, Tesla has argued that slowdowns were necessary to improve the lifespan of its batteries.
A similar suit against Apple over accusations that the company slowed down iPhones to conceal battery issues and push users to buy new devices resulted in the company paying a $113 million settlement last year. Like Tesla, Apple argued that slowdowns were needed to shore up battery life.
In the Norwegian Tesla case, more than 30 Tesla owners filed a court complaint in December 2020, alleging that their battery charging times had increased over the previous year, Nettavisen reported on Saturday. Tesla did not file a response with the council, and the case was decided on April 29.
Tesla, which did not respond to a request for comment, is facing additional heat from regulators in California, who are considering whether the company misled consumers by marketing its vehicles as “self-driving.” The company has also jacked-up prices on some of its most popular models amid a global semiconductor shortage.
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