20 Jul 2022, 13:56
Benjamin Wehrmann

Tesla sued in Germany over possible customer deception regarding CO2 emissions

Clean Energy Wire

Customer protection association vzbv has filed a lawsuit against Tesla over misleading information regarding the US e-car manufacturer's CO2 emissions record and breaches of data protection laws. The association said it has sued Tesla at a court in Berlin due to the carmaker’s marketing claim that customers can actively contribute to reducing transport emissions by emitting “zero grams per kilometre” travelled. However, the vzbv said it is not true that Tesla car buyers directly reduce emissions, as the company is selling emissions allowance certificates to other carmakers for every gram of CO2 saved, who can then continue to pollute the atmosphere in Tesla’s place. Many customers may decide to buy a Tesla because they want to make a contribution towards cleaner transportation, but “the reality looks different,” the vzbv said, adding that the company earned about 1.6 billion dollars in 2020 alone by selling its so-called “emissions credits.” Other companies can use the allowances to let their car fleets emit more than EU limits allow, a fact that Tesla is hiding on page 30 of its environmental impact report, according to vzbv.

The consumer protection organisation also sued the e-carmaker over possible breaches of data protection law. Tesla cars with activated “sentry mode” can constantly record their surroundings, meaning pedestrians and other passersby should be made aware that they are being filmed and allowed to give their consent. “A use in line with data protection laws is practically impossible,” vzbv said.

Tesla has caused a stir in Germany's car industry with the rapid increase of its e-car sales in recent years and its decision to open its first gigafactory in Europe in Brandenburg near Berlin. Tesla's move to Germany has been hailed as a sign of the country's automotive technology prowess but also eyed critically by national competitors, as well as environmentalists and other groups in Brandenburg, who say authorities have bent environmental rules to make a quick licensing of the integrated battery- and vehicle factory possible.

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