Tesla’s Conviction in Norway for Capping Model S Voltage Is Confirmed

Tesla Model S Catches Fire in Shanghai in April 2019, China 11 photos
Photo: Public domain
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On May 17, 2021, Tesla was ordered to pay 136,000 kroner ($14,970 at the current exchange rate) to 30 Norwegian customers affected by the software updates 2019.16.1 or 2019.16.2. These OTA (over-the-air) updates capped the voltage of Model S and Model X battery pack cells, making supercharging much slower and restricting range. According to the Norwegian newspaper DN (Dagens Næringsliv), that sentence was confirmed.
We have no access to the original report, so we have asked the author for a full glimpse. Thankfully, we have previously contacted Christian Hagen Tønsberg, the lawyer from the CLP law firm responsible for the lawsuit, and some of his colleagues. We got in touch with him again to clarify some doubts involving the new decision. Unfortunately, we have not heard back from any of these folks so far, so we’ll leave the clarifications for another article.

Apparently, the difference from the original conviction to the latest one is that Tesla had its lawyers at whatever court decided about it this time. We have no idea if it was the same conciliatory board that issued an absentee judgment after Tesla failed to submit a statement of defense. It could also be the District Court that solves these matters when any parties appeal. The conciliatory board is a necessary step before reaching the District Court.

The lawsuit is not a class action. Although the Norwegian law contemplates them, it also demands the appointment of a group representative, who becomes potentially liable for all the opposing party's legal expenses. In other words, very few people accept becoming that representative or using class actions in Norway in the first place.

According to the DN, instead of paying customers 136,000 kroner, the board lowered the value to 130,000 kroner ($14,310). On the other hand, it seems a new owner joined the lawsuit, bringing the total number of customers to 31. While this seems to be a victory for Tesla, it said it would appeal. That contradicts what Elon Musk said when the company announced it would make a deal with American customers who demanded the same compensations for the same OTA updates’ effects.

David Rasmussen and multiple other owners sued Tesla for the software updates 2019.16.1 or 2019.16.2. On July 30, Tesla proposed to settle the lawsuit by paying these owners $1.5 million, or $625 for each of the 1,743 Model S owners affected and $410,000 in legal fees.

At the time, Musk said that the updates were a mistake and that Tesla would never fight true claims. To Norwegian courts, it seems the company said the updates “made the cars better,” which is another aspect of the lawsuit that we want to confirm.

If that is correct, it may confirm that Elon Musk's about Tesla's policy was just jibber-jabber. Tesla may have just tried to settle the American lawsuit to prevent revealing information that confirmed what it alleged: that Tesla was capping the voltage to conceal defects that could make the battery pack catch fire. The Norwegian legal system may clarify that if the American justice and the U.S. Tesla owners decide it is not worth it.
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Editor's note: The main image shows the EV fire that is said to motivate the software updates 2019.16.1 or 2019.16.2. The gallery brings other Model S fires Tesla failed to explain until this point.

About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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