The last few months have been interesting ones for Tesla. But, come to think of it, almost every month in Tesla’s Palo Alto offices are fraught with wonder and interest. The doings in there keep Gildshire’s automotive magazine freshened regularly. This week, we offer dual news about Tesla, both having to do with batteries. Roadshow by Cnet helped with the research.
First, how about the good news?
Elon Musk recently announced that Model X and Model S cars in the current inventory will get free battery supercharging for life.
That is good news. Is there a catch?
There is. The perk only applies to older models not receiving the hardware upgrades Tesla announced this spring. That was when Tesla’s Model X and S vehicles received powertrain refreshes that boosted their power and range.
So, I have to choose between free supercharging or better powertrain.
Well, yes, but choosing free Supercharging can still be worth it if you find a really good deal on a car in the dealer inventory. Especially since this time”free Supercharging,” really means unlimited use of Tesla’s high-speed charging facilities, and for the duration of the original buyer’s ownership.
Okay, on balance that is good news. I almost hesitate to ask about the bad Tesla battery news.
In May, after a pair of car fires in China made worldwide news, Tesla produced a software update for its vehicles. They were designed to increase battery longevity and improve battery safety.
I remember that. It was a good thing!
We thought so, as well. But, shortly after this software update, Tesla owners began complaining that their expensive electric cars’ charge range was severely reduced.
This week, according to a report published Thursday, Aug. 8 by Reuters, some Tesla owners who reside in Northern California are taking action, literally.
They are mounting an effort to file a class-action lawsuit against Tesla alleging that their vehicles’ batteries are defective. Most of the adversely affected Tesla’s seem to be older-model cars, however, most of them would still be within Tesla’s eight-year battery warranty range. The Model 3’s warranty specifies how low is low as far as when the battery pack could be considered defective, but Models X and S do not.
Some owners (including several already involved in the proposed class-action lawsuit) claim to have lost more than eight kilowatt-hours of capacity after the Tesla software “fixes.” Some are resorting to turning off the Wi-Fi in their cars, preventing them from connecting to the mother ship and being updated further. The owners fear the consequences of further upgrades without the truth about diminished battery capacity coming to light.
So the Tesla battery news is kind of a wash, isn’t it?
Yes and no. Gildshire would like to believe that the diminished range problem will get the attention of the movers and shakers in Palo Alto, so the problem can be fixed without delay. But, we live in a litigious society, and Tesla isn’t a company to shy away from a protracted court fight. So, that gives us pause. We’ll keep an eye on it.