How slack checks on tiny fob batteries leave Tesla facing big fines

Tesla has been hit with a $155,000 fine over its safety compliance in relation to button batteries.

Oct 12, 2023, updated Oct 12, 2023
Button batteries could be fatal if swallowed (Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Button batteries could be fatal if swallowed (Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the electric vehicle manufacturer failed to comply with mandatory safety standards which was a breach of Australian consumer laws.

The ACCC alleged Tesla did not carry out required safety tests before supplying three of its fob models and two of its illuminated door sil models and failed to provide mandatory safety warnings on these products.

The ACCC said children could be attracted to button batteries and swallow them, or insert them into their nostrils, which can cause a chemical reaction that can burn through tissue and seriously injure vital organs. Three children have died in Australia after inserting or ingesting button batteries.

“Button batteries can be lethal for young children, and the Australian mandatory standards are designed to reduce the risk of injury through testing of the safety of products containing them before they are sold, and explicit warnings on the packaging of the products,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said.

“Any failure to test these products before they are sold poses an unacceptable risk to children. We expect all companies, large and small, to comply with the mandatory button battery standards to ensure children are protected from the dangers of button batteries.”

The ten infringement notices relate to three models of Tesla key fobs and two models of Tesla illuminated door sills. Between 22 June 2022 and 30 May 2023 Tesla sold 952 of these items. The models involved are:

Model 3/Y key fobs;

Model X key fobs;

Model S key fobs;

Model 3 illuminated door sills; and

Model S illuminated door sills

Since the ACCC started investigating the issue, Tesla has removed the products from sale and started testing them. The Model 3/Y and Model X key fobs have subsequently been found to comply. Testing for the other products is continuing, and Tesla will only recommence supply once test results are obtained, confirming they are compliant with the mandatory standards.

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“Key fobs are often in easy reach and can be attractive to children, so if the battery compartment is not secure and the batteries become accessible, they pose a very real danger to children,” Ms Lowe said.

Tesla cooperated with the ACCC investigation and has committed to improve its compliance with the mandatory button battery standards, continue to implement and maintain a complaint handling system, conduct regular compliance training and implement an annual compliance review.







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