Tesla has agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it used a software update to lower the maximum battery voltage for some of its Model S vehicles.
According to the plaintiffs, the software upgrade, which was deployed in 2019, resulted in slower charging speed and decreased range for about 1,743 automobiles. As part of the settlement, Tesla agreed to pay $625 to each impacted vehicle owner.
“This amount is many times the prorated value of the temporarily reduced maximum voltage, and thus represents an excellent and efficient result for the Settlement Class,” the court document reads. “In return, the Settlement Class will release claims related to the software updates that imposed and then restored the batteries’ maximum voltage.”
Model S vehicles with 85 kWh battery packs, which were phased out in 2016, appear to be the ones affected. After installing Tesla’s 2019.16.1 and.2 software updates, most owners noticed a reduction in range.
The owners’ lawyers stated that they conducted an investigation and discovered that “voltage limitation was temporary, with a 10% reduction lasting about 3 months, and a smaller 7% reduction lasting another 7 months before the corrective update was released in March 2020. Following that second update, the vehicles’ voltage showed steady restoration over time.”
David Rasmussen, a Tesla owner, was one of the worst hit, with one of the steepest declines we’ve ever witnessed. Rasmussen has been charting the depreciation of his Model S’s battery capacity over the last 100,000 kilometers or so.
In addition to the range reduction, the DC fast-charging rate at Supercharger stations has been lowered. Owners that are affected are experiencing extremely slower charging sessions. The update’s purpose, according to Tesla, is to “protect the battery and improve battery longevity,” and it resulted in a range loss for just “a small percentage of owners.”
This caused a great deal of concern among owners who were affected by the upgrade and demanded additional information regarding the sudden necessity to “guard” the battery pack. It resulted in a slew of lawsuits in several areas for Tesla to pay impacted owners.
Rasmussen initiated a class-action lawsuit in the US, which was one of those lawsuits. Tesla has issued some software updates to restore the capacity two years later, and it is finally ready to settle the matter.
“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 today, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity,” a company spokesperson said at the time in a statement to Teslarati.com, which was cited in Rasmussen’s lawsuit.
It’s unclear how the plaintiffs will be compensated by Tesla at this time. On December 9th, a US district court judge will hold a hearing on the proposed settlement. A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, and the company’s public relations department was dissolved in 2019.
Per the filing, a judge has scheduled a hearing on December 9 to finalize the proposed settlement.