Feds expand Tesla investigation to include vehicle range, personal benefits

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Tesla has the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice — again.

Tesla has received requests for information, including subpoenas from the DOJ, the automaker disclosed Monday in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The DOJ issued subpoenas related to perks, the advertised range of its EVs and personnel decisions, according to the filing.

The DOJ’s inquiry into vehicle range comes several months after a Reuters investigation found that the automaker had exaggerated the range estimates for its EVs for years, prompting owners to flood its service center over concerns that their vehicles needed service. The investigation, citing anonymous sources and industry experts, found that the directive to use algorithms to give rosier range numbers came from CEO Elon Musk.

The DOJ also became interested earlier this year in personal benefits that Tesla may have provided CEO Elon Musk since 2017, including the use of company funds to build a proposed glass house. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has also requested information about transactions between Tesla and other entities connected to Musk, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal published in August.

The disclosure in Monday’s filing is on top of the DOJ’s investigation into Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system Autopilot and its accompanying subscription feature known as Full Self-Driving or FSD. Tesla revealed in January that the DOJ had launched an inquiry into Autopilot and FSD. It’s unclear if the DOJ investigation disclosed in January is connected to another criminal investigation by the agency launched in late 2021 following more than a dozen accidents involving the active use of Tesla’s Autopilot system.

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