Tesla owners demand refunds

Tesla owners demand refunds

Elon Musk

British Tesla drivers could be owed thousands of pounds after the company failed to deliver on its driverless cars promise.

The electric vehicle manufacturer, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, is facing legal challenges after drivers were sold ‘full self-driving’ technology – that has so far failed to materialise.



Tesla has sold cars with “full self-driving capability” since 2016, and charges £6,800 for the add-on, after a lower £5,800 price for early adopters. However, the feature has been plagued with delays.

More than two million Tesla vehicles in America have been recalled over concerns some drivers could be misusing features in the Autopilot system, the second recall to hit the manufacturer this year.

In February, more than 360,000 of its cars in the US were recalled and their systems updated over safety fears, after a two-year official investigation was launched in 2022 into dozens of crashes linked to the technology.

Manufacturers are also set to be banned from marketing cars as “self-driving” or “driverless” in the UK unless technology is approved under new rules coming as soon as next year.



Drivers in Britain who purchased full self-driving as an add-on to Tesla’s Model 3 are now launching legal action following the pledged feature being delayed for several years.

‘Tesla asked me to sign a gagging order’

Ed Butler, who paid an extra £5,800 for full self-driving in 2019 on top of £55,040 for his Model 3, settled a claim with Tesla in October.

Mr Butler, 40, said he was led to believe through Tesla’s marketing of full self-driving that it would be added as a feature by the end of 2019.

A digital brochure he received about his new car said that it would have “full self-driving capability” including a “automatic driving on city streets” feature that was said to be coming later in the year.



While a traffic light recognition feature was installed in his vehicle in late 2020, this feature is yet to be added.

Tesla returned the money, including court fees with interest in a total payout of just over £8,000, after the former businessman from Oxford took it to the small claims court.

Mr Butler claims after a court hearing date was set, Tesla offered to settle, initially on the condition that he agree to a non-disclosure clause to prevent him discussing the settlement with anyone.

Documents of Tesla’s offer to Mr Butler, seen by The Telegraph, show that he was asked not to “aid in any action at law” that might help others make similar claims and keep the agreement “confidential” after signing.



Mr Butler said he did not sign the settlement agreement until the non-disclosure and non-advice clauses were removed.

“It was just kind of a fight,” he said, adding that the business appeared to have made an error in selling a product not yet approved for the British market.

They made a mistake and I can understand how they made a mistake. They’re a global brand and they haven’t thought of the consumer legislation in the UK.”

Mr Butler made his claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which states that “every contract to supply goods by description is to be treated as including a term that the goods will match the description”.

‘I was told I paid for full self-driving’



Mazher Chishty, a public relations consultant from Hampshire, also purchased a Model 3 in 2019 and paid the almost £6,000 price tag for his vehicle to have full self-driving.

But more than four years after the purchase he said he is still in the dark about whether his vehicle will ever get the features he paid for.

“When I bought my car in August 2019 I was told I paid for full self-driving. It said that this car will drive itself basically on the streets.”

Mr Chishty, 60, said he has now chosen to initiate legal proceedings, filing a letter before action earlier this month.



“It’s now four years later and nothing has happened in relation to full self-driving. I’ve just issued proceedings against Tesla in the small claims court.”

He added: “My hopes have been totally dashed repeatedly. We thought Elon was a genius and it turns out he is a crazy maverick.”

Another Tesla driver, Andrew Smith, a lawyer from London, said he was planning to also begin legal proceedings against Tesla after buying full self-driving.

Mr Smith, 39, bought his first Tesla Model 3 in 2019 and was sold the same deal that promised full self-driving by the end of that year.

He said he doubted the technology would become available soon. “The fact is it hasn’t really developed at all in the UK.”

A group of Tesla drivers have filed a lawsuit against Tesla in the US, where automatic driving on city streets has been released in “beta” mode to those who paid for it.

The class action, launched in September, accuses the manufacturer of failing to provide vehicles which fully drive themselves, as advertised

US media reported that Tesla’s lawyers have responded saying “mere failure to realize a long-term, aspirational goal is not fraud”.

Dan Kerrigan, group litigation specialist at Harcus Parker, a City law firm, said Tesla was “obviously in real difficulties”.

“It’s just straight forward. You’ve bought something that you haven’t got. It’s obviously lamentable that they have been as aggressive as they have.”

Speaking about Mr Butler’s experience settling his claim with Tesla, he said confidentiality clauses were not uncommon in out of court settlements, but that “to go further and to seek a non-advice agreement is pretty callous”.

“It’s backfired and all credit to this individual who’s got through with it. You’d hope Tesla will do the right thing and refund everyone.”

Tesla did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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