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South Korea fines Tesla $2.2 million over EV range disclosures

Antitrust regulators say Tesla failed to point out that driving ranges are shorter in cold weather.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tesla has suffered another blow after a South Korea regulator said it would fine the company 2.85 billion won ($2.24 million) for failing to disclose the shorter ranges of its electric vehicles in low temperatures. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said that Tesla EV ranges drop by up to 50.5 percent in cold weather, compared with the ranges that the company stated online.

The antitrust agency claimed that Tesla exaggerated the ranges of its vehicles on a single charge, the performance of Superchargers and fuel cost effectiveness versus combustion engine vehicles, as Reuters reports. The KFTC said that Tesla did so on its South Korean website between August 2019 and recently.

Studies have shown that ranges for all EVs can drop significantly in colder weather, mainly because the battery that's used to power those cars also heats the interior. Based on data from South Korea's environment ministry, a local consumer group claimed in 2021 that the ranges of most EVs drop by up to 40 percent in cold weather. Tesla's vehicles saw the biggest drop, according to Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty. Tesla doesn't have a communications department that can be reached for comment.

While the fine is a relatively small one, it's more bad news for Tesla. The company said on Monday that it set a new quarterly record for EV deliveries in the last three months of 2022 with more than 405,000 (an increase of nearly 97,000 compared with a year earlier). However, analysts expected Tesla to deliver 418,000 EVs last quarter. By 10:30AM ET on Tuesday, Tesla's stock had dropped by over 10 percent compared with Monday. The company's share price has plummeted by 72 percent over the last 12 months.