Teslas have always sounded a little too good to be true, and Elon Musk is in the dog house again for his latest expression of “free speech.” It seems Teslas can’t drive as far as once claimed and still don’t truly drive themselves.
Tesla slashed range estimates of its Model Y Long Range and Performance models by 6% on Thursday, according to Electrek. Musk’s electric car company also issued a software update to 1.6 million vehicles in China on Friday, reminding drivers they still have to pay attention while the Autopilot is enabled.
The Model Y’s new range estimates are not a reduction in performance, but rather a more realistic estimate of how far a Tesla’s charge will get you. The Model Y Long Range model is down to 310 miles from 330, while the Model Y Performance is down to 285 miles from 303, according to Electrek.
As for the Autopilot update, there was a similar over-the-air software update to over 2 million American Teslas in December after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined Tesla wasn’t doing enough to ensure drivers used the system correctly. This week, the update expanded to Teslas in China, where a competitor, BYD, recently overtook Tesla as the top-selling electric car.
California’s DMV is currently in a legal battle with Musk over bold marketing claims about Tesla’s “full self-driving capability,” despite the cars requiring driver supervision in Autopilot mode. The DMV accuses Tesla of fraud whereas Musk calls the exaggerated claims “free speech.”
Independent testers have questioned the advertised ranges on Teslas for a long time. In 2021, Edmunds found the Tesla Model Y Performance drove 9.6% fewer miles than advertised. This updated range from Tesla is closer to its actual performance. But what does that make the old range? An exaggeration or another example of “free speech?”
The First Amendment argument is quickly becoming a core tenet of Musk’s businesses. Tesla, X, and xAI (the creator of the AI chatbot Grok) all seem poised to promote free speech at all costs. However, the line between freedom of speech and fraud at Tesla is up for debate amongst lawyers in California.
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