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Tesla drivers lose US class action bid in battery range disputes

A Tesla car gets charged at a Tesla supercharging station in Kettleman City, California, U.S., January 25, 2023\

March 7 (mod1s) - Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab owners who accused it of deceptively promoting projected driving ranges for its electric cars must pursue their claims in individual arbitrations rather than joining together in planned class action lawsuits, a federal court said. 

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California ruled, opens new tab on Thursday the drivers had consented to an arbitration agreement for settling problems with the carmaker when they purchased their automobiles.

The plaintiffs accused Tesla of illegally encouraging users to purchase its vehicles by overstating how far they can drive on a single charge. The pair of lawsuits also claimed that Tesla, headed by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, misrepresented the driving range on car displays. 

A Reuters special story in July showed that Tesla has developed a hidden squad to downplay drivers' concerns regarding driving range. Both cases mentioned the special report.

Tesla and attorneys representing the business did not immediately reply to calls for comment. Tesla has termed the accusations in the cases "unmeritorious." 

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the two instances either refused to comment or did not immediately reply to a request for one. 

Rogers' ruling did not consider the merits of the drivers' allegations. She did not dismiss the complaints and suggested she may potentially issue an injunction against Tesla if the drivers successfully arbitrated their claims under California's unfair competition statute and other provisions.

The drivers' lawyers had characterized Tesla's move to force individual arbitration a "effort to avoid classwide liability for its deceptive conduct." 

Tesla cut driving-range estimates across its EVs in January, as a new U.S. government vehicle-testing requirement was introduced to ensure manufacturers correctly represent real-world performance.


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