It’s been a tough week for Tesla. First, NHTSA opened an investigation into a fatal accident in Florida last May. The incident happened while the car was operating in Autopilot model — the first death in a self driving Tesla in more than 130 million miles of driving. Then, Norway’s Consumer Disputes Commission ruled in favor of owners who purchased a Model S P85D. They say their cars — which cost considerably more than standard models — do not have the 691 total horsepower Tesla claims it does.
The commission agreed, saying the company’s horsepower claim amounted to false advertising. Norway is one of Tesla’s best markets, primarily because Norway offers people sizable incentives to purchase electric cars instead of conventional automobiles with internal combustion engines. About 150 Tesla owners were involved in the claim against Tesla. It has been ordered to compensate each driver with a payment equivalent to $6,000.
This is really a technical issue. Tesla says the P85D accelerates to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. In fact, independent tests confirm that performance metric. So if the cars accelerate as fiercely as Tesla claims they will — Elon Musk says they accelerate faster than if they were pushed out of an airplane — what’s the problem?
It’s all a matter of semantics, apparently. The Model S P85D has a 467 horsepower rear motor and 224 horsepower from the front motor. Add them together and the total is 691 horsepower. The problem is that all that horsepower is not available at the same time. Tesla, in an e-mail it sent to Autoblog, said that it’s reviewing the decision and that the disclosed horsepower figures “were legally required and confirmed as accurate by European regulatory authorities.” If Tesla is required to compensate all 600 P85D owners in Norway, it could end up costing the company nearly $1 million.
For those purists who will carp that the photo used in this post shows an old style Model S, be advised that all P85D’s were built prior to the new updated front end was introduced.