Mercedes reportedly damage privately owned Tesla rental
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We're all probably guilty of at least one or two cases of rental car abuse. But perhaps none of them are quite like this one...
A curious story from German outlet Der Spiegel has emerged, led by Tesla Model X owners Monika Kindlein and Manfred van Rinsum. The couple own a trio of Tesla models that they occasionally offer out as a rental cars for events. And when rental car company Sixt approached them earlier this year to secure one of their Teslas (a Model X) for an unknown client for seven weeks straight through July and August, they saw no issue.
Suspicions were aroused when van Rinsum got notified through an app that the car was getting charged in Barcelona. He then began following its on-board GPS signal, which showed it driving on a couple of test tracks. These were both breaches of Sixt rental agreements, according to Der Spiegel.
The car was returned to the couple in a damaged state, offering a lone note from the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in its glove box as a clue of who exactly had been driving the car. The note? It said "you parked incorrectly" on it.
Der Spiegel reported that the car had apparently been torture tested by Daimler, Mercedes-Benz's parent company, in various hardy conditions, as well as dismantled and reassembled — both processes an effort to get to the guts of the Tesla's construction, build-quality, reliability, and performance.
Now, manufacturers buying or renting cars for research purposes is hardly new. However, it's rare for there to be a car owner at the end of it all who's stuck with a stuffed up car. Understandably unhappy, Kindlein and van Rinsum are now in the process of trying to get reimbursed for the damage, loss of income, and depreciation on the Tesla.
And it's been a trying battle so far. They've received a payout from Sixt who passed the bill to 'the customer' (Sixt didn't name Daimler as the culprit to the press), but the Tesla's owners believe that the figure comes up short to what they're entitled. Drafting up his own invoice, van Rinsum landed on a €99,392.79 (NZ$170,000) figure that would cover repairs, loss of income, a daily fine for each day of test track usage, and payment for a confidentiality agreement.
But speaking to Der Spiegel, the couple aren't optimistic about getting paid out the full amount, noting the scale of Daimler and Sixt and the unlikely nature of beating them in a legal setting.
So far Daimler have remained relatively quiet in all this; declining to comment specifically on the matter to either Der Spiegel or American motoring website Jalopnik. They did however reiterate that "renting vehicles for comparison purposes is a common procedure in the automotive industry", adding that insurance typically takes care of damages.