Tesla has been fined $2.2 million by South Korea’s antitrust regulator, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), over claims that it falsely advertised the range of its vehicles in cold weather.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the KFTC announced that it had found Tesla guilty of exaggerating the driving range of its electric vehicles, failing to inform customers that the cars have shorter driving ranges in lower temperatures. The KFTC also accused Tesla of overstating the “fuel cost-effectiveness” of its vehicles compared to gasoline cars and the performance of its Superchargers on its official website since August 2019.
According to the KFTC, the driving range of Tesla’s electric vehicles drops by 50.5% in cold weather, more than what was advertised online. The carmaker reportedly changed the advertising on its Korean-language website in February 2022, after the KFTC launched an investigation.
In addition to the fine for false advertising, the KFTC also imposed a fine of roughly $800 for a violation of the country’s Electronic Commerce Act, as Tesla did not provide enough information to customers on its cancellation policy.
South Korean consumer group Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty has claimed that the driving range of electric vehicles, including Teslas, can drop by up to 40% in colder temperatures, according to data from Korea’s environment ministry. Tesla has winter driving tips on its website but does not mention anything about shorter driving ranges in cold temperatures.
Despite the fines, Tesla has remained one of the biggest green car brands in South Korea since it opened its local office in 2015. As of October 2022, the company had sold 45,812 electric vehicles in the country, according to the country’s transport ministry.