Sydney, Oct 12: Car manufacturer Tesla Motors Australia Pty Ltd has been hit with penalties totaling $155,460 after receiving ten infringement notices from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for alleged non-compliance with mandatory safety standards related to products powered by button batteries.
These violations are in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC asserts that Tesla failed to perform the necessary safety tests before supplying three of its key fob models and two of its illuminated door sill models, failing to provide the mandatory safety warnings as required by the standards.
Mandatory product safety and information standards for button batteries, a world-first in Australia, were implemented in June 2022 following significant injuries and fatalities associated with button batteries both in Australia and overseas.
Children are often drawn to button batteries, which they might swallow or insert into their nostrils.
This can trigger a chemical reaction that results in tissue damage and potentially severe harm to vital organs.
In Australia, three children have lost their lives after swallowing or inserting 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 the safety of products containing them before they are sold, and explicit warnings on the packaging of the products,” explained ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe.
The ACCC issued ten infringement notices related to three models of Tesla key fobs and two models of Tesla illuminated door sills.
Between June 22, 2022, and May 30, 2023, Tesla sold 952 of these items.
The affected models include the 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Since the ACCC initiated its investigation, Tesla has withdrawn the products from sale and commenced testing. The Model 3/Y and Model X key fobs have been found to comply with the standards.
Testing for the other products is ongoing, and Tesla will only resume supply if test results confirm compliance with the mandatory standards.
“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,” Lowe cautioned. Some of these fobs were shaped like cars, which could further increase their appeal to children.
Tesla has also provided button battery safety information directly to consumers who purchased the affected products.
The company cooperated with the ACCC investigation and has committed to enhancing its compliance with the mandatory button battery standards.
Tesla will implement and maintain a complaint-handling system, conduct regular compliance training, and carry out an annual compliance review.
The ACCC advises that if a child is suspected of swallowing or inserting a button battery, immediate action is crucial.
Contact the 24/7 Poisons Information Centre at 13 11 26 for swift, expert advice, as serious injuries can occur in as little as two hours, with potentially fatal consequences.
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