US Justice Department Issues Subpoenas to Tesla in Ongoing Probes

By Aditya Soni and David Shepardson | October 23, 2023

The U.S. Justice Department has sought documents and issued subpoenas to Tesla TSLA.O as it scrutinizes the automaker’s driver assistance system Autopilot and vehicle driving range, among other issues, the company said on Monday.

Tesla said in a regulatory filing it has received requests for information “including subpoenas, from the DOJ. These have included requests for documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features” and other requests “associated with personal benefits, related parties, vehicle range and personnel decisions.”

Reuters reported in October 2022 that Tesla was under a Justice Department criminal investigation over claims the company’s electric vehicles can drive themselves, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reported in August that federal prosecutors were also looking into Tesla vehicle performance claims as well as Tesla’s use of company funds on a secret project described internally as a house for Chief Executive Elon Musk.

Reuters reported in July that Tesla cars often fail to achieve their advertised range estimates and projections reported by the cars’ own equipment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for more than two years has been investigating the performance of Autopilot after identifying more than a dozen crashes in which Tesla vehicles hit stationary emergency vehicles and whether they adequately ensure drivers are paying attention when using the driver assistance system.

Tesla also said its capital expenditure for 2023 would exceed the $7 billion to $9 billion target it had laid out earlier this year, as it ramps up output at its factories and gears up to roll out new models.

The company’s spending is, however, expected to return to the $7 billion to $9 billion range in the next two years, a regulatory filing showed.

Tesla was hesitating on its plans for a factory in Mexico as it grapples with a turbulent economic outlook, Musk said last week, warning rising interest rates could affect demand at Tesla, on top of a margin-sapping price war this year to maintain sales.

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