Imagine buying a brand new Tesla Model 3. You have paid 54,000 euros and, in principle, everything works fine. Until you have to put it on the lift to change the tires and you discover some ugly cracks in the underside of the car. This is briefly what has happened to a German customer, a nightmare which has ended up in court.
The customer in question received his Model 3 in February 2021. A few months later, with the arrival of good weather, he changed the winter tires on the car for summer tires. When raising the car to the elevator to change the tires, the client – who is an engineer, by the way – realized that on the bottom, and more specifically on various fastening points, there were cracks and dents of varying degrees.
Concerned, the customer began to investigate and soon realized that he was not the only one affected. There were more customers with similar defects in his cars. According to internal Tesla reports, it seems that a robot on the production line of the Fremont factory (United States) is to blame for this failure. However, the company has refused to take responsibility for the defects and, of course, not to mention bear the costs.
The defective attachment points are part of the battery pack, so moisture or salt could penetrate more easily, especially in winter. To this we must add possible parasitic noises while driving and insecurity every time you have to put it on the elevator. The owner of the vehicle contacted the Tesla Service Center in Berlin in June 2021, where they tried to fix the problem with some paint claiming that it was only a cosmetic defect.
In July, the customer (whose identity has not been released) asked Tesla to exchange his faulty Model 3 for a car of equal value. Tesla refused, claiming that the damage did not pose a safety risk and the reliability of the car was not affected. It’s not something covered under warranty, according to Tesla. Yes indeed, from the brand they offered him the possibility of solving the problem by changing the entire battery in exchange for a modest 15,000 euros at the customer’s expense.
As Tesla ignored it, the owner of the car decided to take the case to court, for which he sought a lawyer specialized in everything related to the automotive industry and specifically, with electric vehicles: accidents, manufacturing defects, legal disputes to obtain subsidies, etc. . With all the documentation on the table, the lawyer notices a letter from Tesla that reads as follows: “The manufacturing process was improved on April 26, 2021.” For the lawyer, that sentence is the admission that the damages occurred in the factory and that, obviously, they were known before the delivery. Therefore, and taking into account the conditions of the guarantee, Tesla would be obliged to repair the defects in its customer’s car.
As Tesla refused to replace the faulty car with a new one and also to replace the battery at its own expense, the case was referred to the Munich Regional Court. This commissioned an examination of the vehicle to an independent expert, which has been carried out recently, last April. It must be borne in mind that, on this date, the client has been around a year battling with Tesla.
If the car is not repaired, it runs out of ITV
In a lengthy report issued at the end of May, the expert confirms these defects and concludes that “the plaintiff’s assertion that (…) three of the four hitch points are damaged, in particular by cracks, is (… ) correct”. However, the expert says that the potential danger during normal use is “quite low” but he is hesitant to confirm if the corrosion will increase with the cracks. However, it states that in the event that the vehicle is raised on a lift, “the integrity of the factory-specified battery housing is no longer fully met.”
In short, the expert says that the customer is right, the faults are serious and could affect the integrity of the battery when getting on a lift, although there is little risk for driving under normal use. The final conclusion, however, is clear: due to the damage found in the battery, the vehicle cannot pass the ITV (known as TÜV in Germany). The first ITV in Germany is passed after three years, with which the protagonist of this story would have to pass it for the first time in 2024. Until that date, he can legally drive his car.
According to the expert (from the DEKRA company), the high-voltage battery must be replaced. As we have already said, the cost is approximately 15,000 euros. The judicial dispute continues, waiting for Tesla to rule, either to file an appeal or take charge of the repair. In case of appeal, it will be a court that decides which of the parties is right. The client, however, does not ask for the money to be returned, but rather exchange the car for another Model 3 made in Chinawhich have better manufacturing quality, and not in the United States.