Tesla could be forced to pay out as much as $160 million to Norwegian Tesla owners after a Norway court ruled a 2019 software update throttled the electric cars’ battery life and slowed the charging speed.
Dozens of Tesla drivers in Norway complained to the courts after they said a 2019 software update slashed the cars’ battery life, decreased the range and lengthened the time the cars took to charge, according to Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen.
According to the ruling, the update affected Tesla Model S cars built between 2013 and 2015, of which roughly 10,000 were sold in Norway—awarding each of those owners the $16,000 ordered by the court would cost Tesla a whopping $160 million.
The car maker still has several weeks to file an appeal in Norway, according to media reports.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a Forbes request for comment.
Norway is home to one of the largest markets for electric vehicles, in part thanks to aggressive tax exemptions for electric cars. In January, the country became the first in the world where the sale of electric cars outnumbered those with engines that run on gasoline. In 2020, 54.3% of all new cars sold ran on electric batteries. Norwegian officials say the country is on track to meet its goal to end the sale of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles by 2025.
Similar lawsuits accusing Tesla of issuing software updates that slashed battery capacity have been filed elsewhere. A class action lawsuit was filed in 2019 in a Northern California court in which plaintiffs claimed an update decreased earlier car models’ range by as much as 40 miles. According to the complaint, Tesla “fraudulently manipulated its software with the intent to avoid … legal obligations to customers to fix, repair, or replace the batteries” of the cars. In response, Tesla said in a statement to Electrek the software updates were intended to help “protect the battery and improve battery longevity,” and that only a small fraction of owners “have noticed a small reduction in range when charging.” The same year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began an investigation into Tesla car batteries’ alleged defects that remains open.