Tesla faces probe in S. Korea for allegedly exaggerating battery performance

Asian Tech Press (Feb 15) -- South Korea's antitrust regulator said it is investigating U.S. electric car maker Tesla Inc. for allegedly exaggerating the battery performance of electric cars sold in the country in advertisements.

Yonhap News Agency reported Monday that the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has sent a report to Tesla alleging that it exaggerated the range of some models, including the flagship Model 3, in violation of the Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising.

The report said that some Tesla models, including the Model 3, have a reduced range in sub-zero conditions or when driving on the highway, which are not stated on its official website or in advertisements.

Tesla said on its website that the range of Tesla cars is at least 528 kilometers on a single charge.

The KFTC has already started the penalty procedure and will decide the level of punishment after a meeting of nine members, including the head of the antitrust body.

In addition, the KFTC also plans to penalize Tesla for its non-refundable deposit policy.

Korean consumers are required to pay a 100,000 won ($83.42) deposit when ordering a car on Tesla website, but the amount is not refunded after the consumer cancels the order, regardless of whether the vehicle is shipped or not.

For its part, the KFTC believed that the above rule violate consumers' rights.

The KFTC is the agency responsible for economic competition regulation in South Korea. The agency was established in 1981 by the Korea Economic Planning Board (EPB) and is now separated as an independent Korean ministerial-level central administrative orgnization under the authority the Prime Minister.

And Tesla is not the first car company to be punished by the KFTC this year. A few days ago, German carmaker Mercedes-Benz and its Korean unit were also fined 20.2 billion won ($16.85 million) by the KFTC for false advertising.

(US$1 = 1,198.7918 won)

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