Thursday, July 27, 2023

Tesla Range Estimates and Suppressing Complaints

Steve Stecklow and Norihiko Shirouzu (via Hacker News):

Tesla years ago began exaggerating its vehicles’ potential driving distance – by rigging their range-estimating software. The company decided about a decade ago, for marketing purposes, to write algorithms for its range meter that would show drivers “rosy” projections for the distance it could travel on a full battery[…]

Then, when the battery fell below 50% of its maximum charge, the algorithm would show drivers more realistic projections for their remaining driving range, this person said. […] The directive to present the optimistic range estimates came from Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, this person said.


Data collected in 2022 and 2023 from more than 8,000 Teslas by Recurrent, a Seattle-based EV analytics company, showed that the cars’ dashboard range meters didn’t change their estimates to reflect hot or cold outside temperatures, which can greatly reduce range.


Tesla supervisors told some virtual team members to steer customers away from bringing their cars into service whenever possible.


Tesla also updated its phone app so that any customer who complained about range could no longer book service appointments, one of the sources said.


In late 2022, managers aiming to quickly close cases told advisors to stop running remote diagnostic tests on the vehicles of owners who had reported range problems[…]

“Thousands of customers were told there is nothing wrong with their car” by advisors who had never run diagnostics, the person said.


Update (2023-08-04): Jon Brodkin (Hacker News):

Tesla is facing a class-action lawsuit filed by customers who say they were misled by the company’s exaggerated range claims. The lawsuit was filed yesterday, days after a report revealed that Tesla exaggerated its electric vehicles’ range so much that many drivers thought their cars were broken.

Update (2024-01-09): Jess Weatherbed (via Hacker News):

Tesla has lowered the range estimates across several Model Y, S, and X vehicles in the US, reducing the figure on certain trims by up to six percent. As reported by Electrek, Tesla’s online configurator now displays an estimated range of 285 miles for the Model Y’s Performance trim, down 18 miles from its previous 303-mile estimate.


Tesla has not offered an explanation for the lowered range estimations. Drive Tesla reports that the changes are related to two things after reviewing internal company documents. First, are “comfort and functionality improvements” made by Tesla that require more energy, and second is the implementation of revised EPA testing requirements that result in a “higher consumption and a slight decrease in overall range.”

2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

The long tail economics of EVs has yet to be fully realized. But god bless those willing to beta test for the rest of us. Maybe EVs will make sense one day, but not on todays battery tech - at least for me. Range is one thing, a battery pack fire that can't be extinguished - no matter how it starts - is another. It will be interesting to see how insurance companies react over the next couple of years. Good luck!

I really do wonder in the reports of EV repairs/reliability issues being a much higher percentage over ICE vehicles if most of that is skewed due to Tesla's inability to make a reliable car, and not actually endemic to EVs generally.

Leave a Comment