In a nutshell: Tesla is no stranger to lawsuits, but the two new antitrust claims filed against the company aren’t so much related to the cars themselves but the high prices and long waits at the EV giant’s service centers, allegedly a result of its monopolistic practices. “Once consumers have purchased a Tesla EV, they are locked into repair and maintenance services specific to their Tesla vehicles,” said one of the complaints.
A proposed class action lawsuit was brought in US District Court, Northern District of California, by Model S owner Virginia Lambrix on Tuesday. She says Tesla caused her to suffer lengthy delays in repairing or maintaining her vehicle.
The suit claims that purchasing a Tesla locks the customer into repair and maintenance services specific to their vehicle. Unlike traditional gas-powered automobiles that allow owners numerous options from different companies when it comes to parts, repairs, and maintenance – or carrying out work on the vehicles themselves – Tesla owners are limited to using Tesla parts and receiving services from the company or its approved service centers. The suit says this is because Tesla “purposely designs its vehicles” to give it a monopoly on repairs and maintenance.
Tesla restraints have resulted in “exorbitant wait times” for drivers who, in other circumstances, would have gone to an independent repair shop, the suit adds.
The company is accused of charging “supracompetitive prices” for its parts and servicing. It’s also claimed that the EV firm’s warranties and policies make threats to owners about losing coverage should their car be serviced outside of Tesla.
The suit calls for Tesla to dismantle its repair services and parts monopoly. It is also ordered to make its repair manuals and diagnostic tools available to individuals and independent repair shops at a reasonable cost.
A second, almost-identical suit was filed Wednesday by Robert Orendain. Both class actions would include anyone who has paid for Tesla repairs or parts since March 2019.
As Reuters notes, the right-to-repair movement is impacting companies beyond just Tesla. Harley-Davidson is facing a similar class action suit, and farmyard equipment maker John Deere, which locks its products so customers cannot repair them without going through an authorized dealer, is also defending against allegations in federal district court.