Federal Investigators Expand Tesla Probe, Company Claims


According to the company, the Department of Justice has broadened its investigation into Tesla’s business practices to encompass the electric vehicles’ maximum range on a full charge and the “personal perks” provided to high-ranking executives or significant shareholders. Further details were not disclosed.

This disclosure follows recent media reports suggesting that the automaker may have provided inaccurate information to customers regarding the driving range of its vehicles prior to requiring a recharge.

Tesla also mentioned in its regulatory filing that the government had issued a subpoena for documents related to the “personal benefits” received by undisclosed “associated parties” – a term commonly used to refer to top management, company directors, or major shareholders.

In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. attorney’s office in New York was investigating the potential misappropriation of funds for a house intended for Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, near Tesla’s Austin, Texas factory. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on Monday.

Tesla did not provide a response to a request for comment.

“To the best of our knowledge, no governmental agency involved in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing has occurred,” stated the company in its filing, which was a quarterly report submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tesla affirmed its cooperation with the authorities.

According to reports from Reuters and Consumer Reports, Tesla vehicles fell short of their range claims during road testing when compared to the figures provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. Carmakers have some leeway in configuring vehicles for testing, which can influence the results.

Even in warm weather conditions, Consumer Reports found that a Tesla Model Y sport utility vehicle failed to achieve the claimed range by at least 50 miles. On the other hand, the Ford Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4 SUVs exceeded their expected range under identical conditions to the Tesla vehicle when tested by Consumer Reports. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 fell within two miles of its EPA range.

Earlier, Tesla had disclosed that the Justice Department had served subpoenas for documents pertaining to its autonomous driving software. The company is currently facing lawsuits claiming that the software was a significant factor in accidents resulting in fatalities and injuries, and that its performance does not align with claims made by Mr. Musk and the company.

Tesla also stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, the SEC, and various local and international authorities have requested information, although specifics were not provided.

Since Wednesday’s announcement of a 44 percent decline in profit during the third quarter following a reduction in model prices, Tesla’s shares have dropped 13 percent.

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