Reuters. FILE PHOTO: On January 5, 2021, a Tesla logo can be seen in Beijing, China, close to a shopping center. Tingshu Wang for Reuters by Jonathan Stempel and David Shepardson
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A California state transportation authority has charged Elon Musk’s electric car business Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) Inc. for misrepresenting the capabilities of its Full Self-Driving and Autopilot functions as enabling autonomous vehicle control.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) claimed that Tesla deceived potential consumers with advertising that exaggerated the effectiveness of its advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in complaints made to the state Office of Administrative Hearings.
The DMV said in complaints from July 28 that Tesla “made or spread representations that are inaccurate or misleading, and not based on facts.” The DMV made the accusations public on Friday.
The DMV said that vehicles with Full Self-Driving and Autopilot technology “could not at the time of those commercials, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles.
The DMV is requesting redress, which may entail ordering Tesla to pay drivers’ restitution and suspending the company’s ability to sell cars in California.
Email attempts for comment from Tesla, which has shut down its public relations division, were not immediately answered.
The DMV allegations were previously published by the Los Angeles Times.
Tesla has stated that Full-Self Driving also allows cars to heed traffic signals and make lane changes, while Autopilot “enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake autonomously inside its lane.”
Both technologies “require active driver supervision,” with a “fully attentive” driver keeping their hands on the wheel, according to Tesla’s website, and “do not render the vehicle autonomous.”
Tesla’s disclaimer, however, “contradicts the initial inaccurate or misleading labels and statements, which is deceptive, and does not fix the offense,” according to the DMV.
Tesla’s main U.S. market is California. Out of an expected 352,000 automobiles sold nationwide, the company sold 121,000 there in 2021.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched 38 special investigations into Tesla vehicle crashes since 2016 where ADAS systems were thought to have been involved. Nineteen fatalities were reported as a result of the collisions, one of whom was a motorcyclist killed in Utah last month.
NHTSA was unable to respond to the DMV complaints right away.
According to Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, “there is no resemblance between Tesla’s Autopilot and the tool used in aviation.
It’s up to the government to curb it in because certain automakers will do whatever they want to in order to sell a car, she said.