The California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of false advertising in promoting the company’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies.
The agency says the electric car maker misled customers by using advertising language on its website that describes Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies as more capable than they actually are.
The company “made or disseminated statements that are false or misleading and not based on fact,” the DMV said in two complaints filed with the State Office of Administrative Affairs on July 28.
DMV complaints refer to the very names of the technologies and other “misleading” language such as the following appears On the Autopilot page on the Tesla website:
“You just have to get in and tell the car where to go. If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you as an assumed destination. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, driving through city streets, complex intersections and highways.
The remedies offered by the DMV could be severe, including revoking the company’s licenses to manufacture or sell cars in California. However, the actual measures would probably be much milder.
A DMV spokesman said in an email Friday that if its action is successful, the DMV will require Tesla to advertise to consumers and better educate Tesla drivers about its Autopilot and Fully Self-Driving features, including warning alerts about feature limitations and other actions. which are required depending on the violations.
In June, Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized the importance of fully autonomous driving for the company. Without it, Tesla is “essentially worth zero,” He said.
The fully self-driving feature costs $12,000 and ostensibly controls the car automatically on highways, city streets and neighborhood roads; obey traffic signals automatically; and wandering around a driverless car park to park themselves.
Despite the name, no car available to individuals can drive fully autonomously from Tesla or any other company.
Tesla cars never could “and now cannot operate as autonomous vehicles,” the DMV claims.
The DMV notes that Tesla’s website states that “features currently enabled require active driver supervision and do not render the vehicle autonomous.”
However, according to the DMV, the disclaimer “contradicts the original false or misleading labels and claims, which is misleading and does not cure the violation.”
Tesla’s driver-assistance technologies have been popular features to help the automaker stand out in an increasingly crowded electric car market. But YouTube videos showing how its systems put cars into dangerous situations have drawn attention, including near head-on collisions with trucks and trains where the driver has to pull the steering wheel to avoid a crash. One video appears to show Tesla’s sensor system mistaking the moon for a yellow traffic light.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was investigating Autopilot, a less-expensive feature that combines automatic cruise control with automatic steering and automatic lane changes, after Teslas showed how it swerved for emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road.
It’s unclear how many crashes involve fully autonomous driving technology, and whether any of those crashes have resulted in deaths or injuries. Tesla’s on-board computers can transmit this information to Tesla Air, but the company does not share this data with the public.
Musk recently said that fully autonomous driving was not a factor in any Tesla crash, although Tesla owners have filed at least eight crash reports with federal safety authorities. specify otherwise.
Tesla’s response to the DMV complaints, if any, has not yet been made public. Tesla does not have a media relations office. Musk did not respond to a call for Tesla’s side of the story.
State Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), who chairs the Transportation Committee, called the DMV’s allegations against Tesla “deeply troubling.”
“It is critical that the limitations of the technology are presented in the most understandable way possible to best protect public safety on our roads across California,” she said.