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Tesla fined $2.2 million in Korea for false advertising

By Kim Hae-wook & Kim Tae-gyu, UPI News Korea
The Korea Fair Trade Commission judged that Tesla’s Korean affiliate exaggerated the driving range and charging speeds of its electric vehicles. File Photo courtesy of Tesla
The Korea Fair Trade Commission judged that Tesla’s Korean affiliate exaggerated the driving range and charging speeds of its electric vehicles. File Photo courtesy of Tesla

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- South Korea's antitrust watchdog levied a $2.2 million fine on U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla for false advertising.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission judged Tuesday that Tesla's Korean affiliate exaggerated the driving range and charging speeds of its electric vehicles.

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For example, Tesla Korea claimed that its vehicle could run 328 miles on a single charge. But the FTC found the driving distance plummeted as much as 50% in cold weather.

Tesla Korea made other claims, that charging with a supercharger takes less than 15 minutes and enables 153 miles of driving, and also that its car buyers would save $3,900 over five years compared to those with internal combustion engines.

The FTC countered that Tesla's charging time was based on the fastest V3 supercharger, with only the slower V2 superchargers available in South Korea at the time of the online ads.

The antitrust regulator also said there was no sufficient evidence to buttress Tesla's claim that its vehicles offered $3,900 saving over traditional vehicles.

The FTC said Tesla also violated relevant codes by disallowing purchase contracts to be canceled online.

Last year, the FTC slapped a fine of $1.6 million on German automaker Mercedes-Benz and its Korean subsidiary for its claims regarding gas emissions in passenger vehicles.

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"Performance of electric cars in cold temperatures has been one of the thorniest issues for Tesla," Daelim University automotive Professor Kim Pil-soo told UPI News Korea.

"The company should have been more careful with its advertisement about driving distance and charging time. The fine could further dampen Tesla's already declining sales here," he said.

During the first half of 2022, Tesla's sales in Korea were down 42% from a year before.

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