The company was surprised to hear it allegedly does not fulfill its battery take-back obligations.
Media reports that the German Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency) states that Tesla is said to pay a fine of over €12 million ($14 million) because - in short - it did not fulfill its battery take-back obligations.
All manufacturers are required to take care of the end-of-life battery products, which is a reasonable policy. In the case of EVs, those might be faulty batteries, old batteries (low capacity), or packs damaged in accidents.
How could it be then that Tesla did not comply with the law? Well, the case was reported in October in Tesla's Q3 2020 filing.
As it turns out, Tesla of course takes back battery packs, but probably missed some administrative requirements:
"The German Umweltbundesamt (“UBA”) has issued our subsidiary in Germany a notice and fine in the amount of 12 million euro alleging its non-compliance under applicable laws relating to market participation notifications and take-back obligations with respect to end-of-life battery products required thereunder. This is primarily relating to administrative requirements, but Tesla has continued to take back battery packs, and although we cannot predict the outcome of this matter, including the final amount of any penalties, we have filed our objection and it is not expected to have a material adverse impact on our business."
Time will tell whether Tesla's objection will be accepted or if it will lose €12 million in Germany, known for its attention to detail.