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Car manufacturer Tesla has been ordered to pay $155,460 in penalties after it was issued with ten infringement notices from the ACCC for allegedly failing to comply with mandatory Australian safety standards, regarding products powered by button batteries. 

The ACCC alleges Tesla failed to conduct the required safety tests before supplying three of its key fob models and two of its illuminated door sill models, and failed to provide the mandatory safety warnings on these products as required by the standard.

Australia’s world-first mandatory product safety and information standards for button batteries came into effect in Australia in June 2022, following significant injuries and deaths caused by button batteries in Australia and overseas.

Children can 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.

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
  • 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 the products are compliant with the mandatory standards.

Some of these fobs were shaped like a car, potentially further increasing their appeal to children.

Tesla has subsequently provided button battery safety information directly to affected consumers who purchased the affected products.

Consumers who have concerns about the safety of their Tesla products should contact Tesla.

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.

ACCC Deputy Chair, Catriona Lowe, said, “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.

“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,” said Ms Lowe. 

“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.”

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