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Some Tesla owners charge Elon Musk is a greedy, cheating liar, so they sue

A group of Tesla owners who feel deceived that their electric cars don't get the range they were promised last week sued Elon Musk and his family trust for taking advantage of them.

In their suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, the purchasers - who include Boston College's new women's soccer coach - say that to try to satiate his unquenchable hunger for more profits, Musk not only got his car company to advertise false ranges per charge but had his engineers screw with the dashboard mileage estimator to display falsely optimistic range estimates and then, when buyers complained, set up a "diversion team" to shut them up. They are hoping to be named lead plaintiffs in a class action against the mogul.

To enrich himself and the Musk Personal Entities, Musk for years made repeated false claims about the ranges Tesla vehicles could travel. And, at Musk's direction, Tesla claimed that its Model S Plaid, Model 3 Long Range, Model X Plaid and Model Y Long Range vehicles could travel, respectively, 396, 358, 333, and 330 miles on a single charge. These false representations were made directly at the point of purchase on Tesla's website, right before consumers clicked "ORDER NOW" - which is the primary if not exclusive way of purchasing a Tesla vehicle. In fact, the false range figure is the first thing a consumer was presented with at the point of purchase.

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Among other things, the range meter purports to inform drivers approximately how far their vehicles can travel on the remaining battery charge. Once customers realized that their cars weren't performing as Musk claimed, Tesla was inundated with service requests complaining about the cars' mileage. But Musk knew that servicing the cars would be pointless because the vehicles were working as designed - to provide lower driving ranges than advertised. So to avoid having to waste resources and having the lies exposed, Musk implemented a "Diversion Team."

The Diversion Team was designed to perpetuate Musk's fraud by preventing customers from having their vehicles serviced for range-related issues. For example, when a customer scheduled a service appointment to address the vehicle's driving range, a member of the Diversion Team would conduct a "remote diagnostic" and, regardless of the results, tell the customer that the vehicle was fine and cancel the appointment. The Diversion Team further told customers that the stated range was a "prediction" rather than an actual measurement and falsely suggested that the range issues were the result of the batteries naturally degrading over time. The Diversion Team did not tell the truth: the ranges that Tesla's vehicles could travel were exaggerated (at Musk's direction), and the range meter deliberately misstated driving ranges (also at Musk's direction). Indeed, the whole point of the "Diversion Team" was to divert attention from Musk's deception. Chris Watkins: Chris is a college soccer coach who purchased a Tesla in 2020 in the state of Washington and now resides in Massachusetts.

Among the plaintiffs is Chris Watkins, who came here in December to become head coach of the BC women's soccer team.

Watkins, according to the complaint, bought a Tesla in 2020, when he was head coach at Gonzaga, in Spokane, WA.

His vehicle's driving range is far less than its advertised range and far less than the range displayed on the range meter when fully charged. Had Chris known the car's range was exaggerated and that Musk manipulated the range meter to show a false range, he would not have purchased the vehicle or would have paid considerably less.

Also listed as a plaintiff: Sham Sahni's Global Lease Group of Waltham, which bought a Tesla in 2022, and which the suit says is equally put out by Tesla's and Musk's deceit.

The suit specifically alleges violations of consumer-protection laws in the states where the plaintiffs live or do business. It was filed by a lawyer in Framingham and by a law firm in Atlanta that normally defends corporations against class-action suits.

Complete complaint (7M PDF).

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Comments

They're suing Musk and his family trust, but not the company that sold them their cars?

Tesla cars have been on the market for years now. By the plaintiffs' own admission, they're the best selling EVs in the country. So, why haven't we heard about this discrepancy before? Surely there are tens of thousands of people out there driving these things; why hasn't there been a hue and cry about it? And why aren't Tesla's competitors beating them over the head with it?

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If you download the complaint, it has plenty of links to previously published articles about the issues involved.

One example, from Reuters last year: Tesla created secret team to suppress thousands of driving range complaints (I don't know if that link is specifically listed in the complaint, but I found it by Googling "Tesla diversion" and it's something I remember reading about well before the suit was filed).

As to why they're suing Musk (and his family trust) in particular, rather than Tesla? Dunno, but maybe they're concerned about moves to transfer $58 billion from Tesla, a publicly held company, to Musk's personal fund.

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You understand that Musks pay package was voted on and approved by shareholders based on ridiculous milestones that no one expected him to reach. Also his compensation is shares of the company that he’s not allowed to sell for 5 years which he really only wants for more control of the company.
If he failed he would get nothing.
Maybe we should just treat him like the rest of Legacy automotive and pay the CEOs ridiculous salaries even while their companies are tanking.
Tesla has close to 10x since 2018 and shareholders could have jumped at the high at 20x in 2021. He lead the transition to EVs and sustainable energy and he’s saving lives with full self driving.
People don’t like what he says so they hate on him. I’m obviously a stockholder and would rather he be less vocal, but he seems to be doing fairly well.

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Full Self Driving was rated "poor" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As for saving lives, Tesla rated worst among all major manufacturers for accident rates.

Others can probably give you more feedback regarding energy sustainability, but suffice it to say, an EV car requires more energy (due to increased weight from the massive battery) to operate than an ICE car does. You can make an argument about generating efficiency, but the main thing that Tesla does is relocate the emissions. Then there is the battery issue, the tire wear (with associated dust and asthma rates), and numerous other reasons to not accept your assertions.

If Musk is any kind of genius, it might be found in his marketing and sales techniques, but really, PT Barnum invented the idea that a sucker is born every minute, so I'll give the ringmaster the credit on that one.

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Funny how you naysayers just love to trash the tiniest details about EVs, while ignoring climate change and all the negatives of an ICE.

What battery issue? There is technology today that will recycle batteries and make them 100% useful again.

Tires? So, your car doesn't have tires? Or, they don't wear? Lots of drama, pal.

Are EVs perfect? Hell, no. There is no perfect, everything is a trade-off.

As more and more alternative energy sources get built, EVs will make more and more sense. You have to start somewhere.

Regarding Musk the person, not a fan.

FWIW, I don't own an EV.

We'll take your nonsense one line at a time.

Funny how you naysayers just love to trash the tiniest details about EVs, while ignoring climate change and all the negatives of an ICE.

I bike, walk, or uses transit for 99% of my trips. I never said ICE was the right choice, just that EVs are not the solution either. The only real solution is more efficient transportation, that moves more people with less energy.

What battery issue? There is technology today that will recycle batteries and make them 100% useful again.

I'm going to have to call bullshit on this one. There is no 100% re-use option for EV batteries. And there are myriad other concerns, such as the ecological damage caused by lithium mining. But again, this all misses the point, which is that EVs are not the solution, just a repackaging of the same problem of inefficient transportation.

Tires? So, your car doesn't have tires? Or, they don't wear? Lots of drama, pal.

Did you miss the part about EVs being significantly heavier? What do you think causes tire damage? Hint: it is the weight the tire is supporting. EV tires degrade more quickly, place more particulates in to the air.

Are EVs perfect? Hell, no. There is no perfect, everything is a trade-off.

Now you are starting to get it. A lot of people mistakenly think that EVs solve the problem, and they really just don't.

As more and more alternative energy sources get built, EVs will make more and more sense. You have to start somewhere.

Yes, more clean energy production will make EVs less problematic. But even better still, would be less reliance on moving 6,000 pounds of equipment in order to transport a few hundred pounds of people (there's that whole inefficiency thing again, which can never be corrected).

Regarding Musk the person, not a fan.

Agreed.

FWIW, I don't own an EV.

I recommend buying a bike.

OK, I made an assumption about you. Regardless, your little use of cars doesn't apply to everybody. That's great you have those options and use them. I don't have those options out here in the hinterlands of I-495, nor are there any realistic alternatives being presented. So, we have cars.

Regarding recycling of batteries, our own WPI has been doing research for awhile and has a promising technology. An excerpt:

But new research published in Joule has hit upon what experts describe as a more elegant recycling method that refurbishes the cathode—the carefully crafted crystal that is the lithium-ion battery’s most expensive component and key to supplying the proper voltage. The researchers found that batteries they made with their new cathode-recycling technique perform just as well as those with a cathode made from scratch. In fact, batteries with the recycled cathode both last longer and charge faster.

You made a comment about tire wear:

Then there is the battery issue, the tire wear (with associated dust and asthma rates)...

Reading this, one would think that ICE cars don't have tire wear and spread particulates. Yes, heavier vehicles can have more tire wear, but not necessarily. It's more dependent of the rubber composition and how the vehicle is used. I can take a sub-2000 lb car out and rip the tires to shreds in no time. Again, it depends.

But even better still, would be less reliance on moving 6,000 pounds of equipment in order to transport a few hundred pounds of people

That's a gross exaggeration. An EV doesn't have to be 6000 lbs. What does a Chevy Bolt weigh? Unfortunately, production is skewed towards bigger, more expensive vehicles because of limited resources and manufacturers make more money with them. Also, consumers don't buy smaller vehicles, ICE or EVs, and they are money losers. That's highly unfortunate.

Anyways, no matter how much public trans there is, people are going to own vehicles. They don't live in a city, they need to go to work, and they want to travel. We're retired and we travel around a lot locally.

I recommend buying a bike.

A bike? Did a 3-hour ride yesterday and will get out soon today. According to my wife, I don't need yet another bike.....
I admit, none of my riding is utilitarian. 2-3 miles is a long way in a city and gets you to a lot of places. 2-3 miles here doesn't get you close to much. If I lived in the city, I would definitely have a city bike, probably belt drive - and use it. But, I prefer living here where I can go out my back door to really nice country roads for hours. That's just me.

Thanks for the discussion.

to buy a Cybertruck. Imagine having shelled out $80K-$100K for one of those slabs of useless, hideous shite.

I think the other Teslas might be great cars as EVs go, once thought about buying one, but I will never put a dime in Elon's pocket if I can help it.

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Not from what I've heard, anyway. Tesla doesn't have the decades of car-making experience that the traditional automakers have, and from what I've heard, that's reflected in the quality of the finished product.

What bothers me, though, is that Tesla, like Apple, keeps control of the products it sells. You may think you own the car, but Tesla can shut it down at any time and render it useless. They also own the software that runs it, and have no obligation to share it with anyone else. When they decide not to support it any more, you'll have to buy a new one.

There are hundred-year-old cars still driveable today. But a hundred years from now, any surviving Teslas will probably not run. The parts will be long out of production; the people who wrote the software will be long dead, and no one will know how to fix the things.

What the world needs is an open-source EV.

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opinion of other Tesla models is based on the anecdotal experience of friends that own and love them, though some have buyers' remorse now that Elon has revealed himself to be such a bigoted, fascist asshole.

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You went from making a very good point comparing tesla to apple but you’re really worried about a car not functioning 100 years from now?
How about purposely draining the iPhone batteries after 5-7 with iOS updates? Maybe similar concern for the vehicles here.

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30 years. It isn’t just an EV problem.

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With all the electronics, hardware and software, I question the longevity of modern cars. Cars that are strictly mechnical can be maintained for a very long time.

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This must be why the Model Y was the best selling car(not just EV) on the planet in 2023….

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Doesn't that maybe (maybe!) only show that the Diversion Team has been successful?

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So what? "It's popular so it must be good" is a fallacy most of us have learned to spot by the end of grade school. Were you maybe sick that day?

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Elon Musk is a vile man, it's not that he "talks too much" it's what he says. He's a racist and a fascist.

One could be only trivially principled and still choose not to buy a Tesla, I don't care how far it goes on a charge.

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Elon is the man, you commenters are all pathetic jealous morons who will never do anything in your lives except talk your left wing bullshit

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