Tesla owners ‘uniquely at the mercy’ of carmaker, says attorney in lawsuit alleging software updates drained or killed expensive batteries

Elon Musk’s software program experience has helped Tesla outsmart different carmakers. Whereas rivals may must convey a whole bunch of hundreds of autos into retailers for recall repairs, Tesla can usually repair related points by way of an over-the-air software program replace. 

However in keeping with a class-action lawsuit filed Friday in California, software program updates have drained or rendered inoperable costly batteries for some homeowners. The go well with states:

“When automotive homeowners buy their autos, they fairly count on that unexpected occasions—like climate, accidents, or flat tires—could influence the efficiency of their autos and result in pricey repairs. However no cheap client would count on that the automotive producer itself, by way of an automatic system, would intentionally and considerably intervene with the automotive’s efficiency by way of software program updates that scale back the working capability of the autos. However that’s exactly what Tesla has finished right here.”

In response to the go well with, Tesla’s computerized software program updates have, with out warning, depleted the battery in Mannequin S and Mannequin X autos, decreasing the driving vary by a minimum of 20%. “Automobile homeowners can be compelled to pay a 3rd celebration a big price ($500-$750) to reverse the software program replace in order that the automotive homeowners may proceed to expertise the battery efficiency that they had earlier than the replace,” the go well with states.

In some circumstances, the software program updates “will render the batteries inoperable, and automotive homeowners must buy a brand new battery at a value of as much as $15,000,” it provides.

In July 2021, Tesla agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle claims that certainly one of its software program updates briefly diminished the battery’s charging velocity, most capability, and vary briefly for greater than 1,700 Mannequin S homeowners, in keeping with CNBC. 

Hagens Berman legal professional Steve Berman, who’s representing Tesla homeowners and lessors within the present lawsuit, informed Fox Information, “Tesla homeowners and lessors are uniquely on the mercy of the maker of their vehicles, and Tesla imposes software program updates with out consent at any time when their car is linked to Wi-Fi.” 

The lawsuit provides: “Tesla homeowners connect with Tesla instantly by way of Wi-Fi from their properties or companies, and Tesla can then push software program updates onto the autos, with out the chance to consent to the updates or ask questions concerning the updates. And Plaintiffs actually didn’t consent to updates that hurt the efficiency of their autos.”

Tesla states on its web site: “Over-the-air software program updates introduce new options and updates to your car—making your car safer and extra succesful over time.”

Fortune reached out to Tesla for feedback concerning the lawsuit however acquired no rapid reply.