Tesla Model 3 range claims are coming under scrutiny once again.
Tesla (and Elon Musk himself) and the American government, specifically the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), have had a rocky relationship in recent years. The EV manufacturer is now facing additional scrutiny over certain claims by another national government. South Korea's antitrust regulatory body is currently deciding whether or not to impose penalties against Tesla because of possible exaggerated claims regarding its batteries. Per Reuters, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has contacted Tesla informing it of the improper mileage claims for the Model 3 and other models. If true, that would be in direct violation of the country's Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising.
"We plan to hold a general meeting to review and determine the extent to which the automaker has violated the law and decide the level of sanctions," a KFTC official said.
The agency's beef with Tesla begins with what's written on the latter's website. Tesla claims the Model 3 can travel up to 328 miles on a single charge. However, the KFTC counters that because the range may dip if the temperature drops below freezing outside. It's not unusual for EVs to see some range loss in extremely cold weather.
But the South Korean agency also has a second problem with Tesla: customer refunds.
Apparently, there was a certain number of South Korean customers who decided to cancel their online purchases before the orders were processed and did not receive refunds. Granted, that deposit is the USD equivalent of only $84 but customers are claiming they never got that amount back after canceling. As usual, Tesla did not comment on the matter.
The refund issue can easily and quickly be resolved by simply giving those customers their money back. The battery issue might be more difficult. Tesla states the truth regarding the Model 3's range on its South Korean market website. What it doesn't appear to state is that range can be affected in freezing temperatures. That's true for any EV, regardless of whether it's a Tesla or a Ford F-150 Lightning.
Tesla could end up being forced to add a disclaimer on its Korean-language website informing customers of this possibility. That could be a fair and reasonable final agreement. We don't think any malice was intended, but education is key.