Tesla fined $2.2 million in Korea over alleged exaggerated driving range estimates

Credit: Tesla Asia/Twitter

American electric vehicle maker Tesla has been fined KRW 2.85 billion ($2.2 million) by South Korea’s antitrust regulator for allegedly failing to inform customers about the reduced driving range of its electric vehicles in cold temperatures. 

As per the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), Tesla has exaggerated some of its vehicles’ capabilities on its official website. Specifically, the KFTC noted that Tesla was not completely honest about the “driving ranges of its cars on a single charge, their fuel cost-effectiveness compared to gasoline vehicles as well as the performance of its Superchargers.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the KFTC noted that the driving range of Tesla’s electric vehicles could drop by up to 50.5% in cold weather. This was an issue that Tesla did not mention in its marketing efforts, the antitrust regulator noted. 

Tesla does provide important and practical winter driving advice to its customers on its website, including tips like using external power sources to pre-condition vehicles as well as the use of its updated Energy app to monitor energy consumption. Tesla’s website does not specifically mention the loss of driving range in sub-zero temperatures, Reuters noted.

Tesla, for its part, has not issued a statement about the matter. 

It is important to note that range loss during cold weather driving is not unique to Tesla. Most electric vehicles generally experience some loss of driving range in cold weather, similar to internal combustion cars, which typically consume more fuel in low temperatures. This has been noted by analysts, such as Yves Racette, a Quebec-based consultant. 

“Gas cars lose range just like electric cars; you’re consuming more fuel in winter than in summer,” Racette said

A look at South Korean webpage for the Tesla Model 3 shows that the company now includes a disclaimer on the all-electric sedan’s performance and milesage due to factors such as weather. Interestingly enough, a look at the domestic pages of two popular South Korean EVs — the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 — shows that only Kia EV6 has a prominent disclaimer about its electric car’s range during cold weather. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 does not seem to have the same disclaimer prominently displayed on its local website. 

Credit: Tesla Korea

Credit: Kia Korea

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Tesla fined $2.2 million in Korea over alleged exaggerated driving range estimates
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