Tesla has been fined $2.2 million in South Korea for failing to inform customers that its electric vehicles offer shorter driving range in low temperatures.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said the fine of 2.85 billion won ($2.2 million) is warranted because Tesla had exaggerated 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,” Reuters reported.
Korea’s antitrust watchdog said Tesla made these exaggerated claims on its official local website since August 2019 until recently. In a statement on January 3, the KFTC said the driving range of Tesla’s electric cars plunge in cold weather by up to 50.5 percent versus how they are advertised online.
On its website, Tesla provides winter driving tips, such as preconditioning vehicles with external power sources and using its updated Energy app to monitor energy consumption. The automaker does not mention the loss of driving in sub-zero temperatures, though.
The KFTC ruling comes after South Korean consumer group Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty said in 2021 that the driving range of most EVs drops by up to 40 percent in cold temperatures when batteries need to be heated. Citing data from the country’s environment ministry, the group noted that Tesla EVs suffer the most in this respect.
Electric vehicles are known to experience reduced driving range in extreme temperatures, although they are popular in markets with cold climates such as Norway, where four of five vehicles sold in 2022 were battery-powered – with Tesla being the No. 1 automaker.
A 2020 study of 4,200 connected EVs of all brands by Canada-based telematics provider Geotab found that most models had a similar drop in range in cold weather, mainly because the battery is also used to heat the car’s interior for the driver and passengers. The study found that at minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), the average EV had only 54 percent of its rated range.
In 2022, the KFTC fined Mercedes-Benz and its Korean unit 20.2 billion won ($15.8 million) for false advertising tied to gas emissions of its diesel passenger vehicles.