California DMV says Tesla FSD, Autopilot marketing is misleading

New Tesla cars sit in a parking lot at a Tesla showroom on June 27, 2022 in Corte Madera, California.

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles accused Tesla of engaging in deceptive practices surrounding the marketing of its driver assistance systems, which are called Autopilot and Full Self Driving in the US, according to an administrative agency filing. state.

Elon Musk’s electric car business risks more than his reputation: In the worst case, the company could temporarily lose the licenses that allow it to operate as a vehicle manufacturer and car dealer in California.

In a pair of July 28 filings before the California Office of Administrative Hearings, a DMV official and attorneys wrote:

“Rather than simply identifying product or brand names, these ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Autonomous Driving Capability’ labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with ADAS features will operate as an autonomous vehicle, but vehicles equipped with those ADAS features could not at the time of those announcements, and now they cannot operate as autonomous vehicles.

California DMV Office of Public Affairs Deputy Director Anita Gore told CNBC via email that if the department wins, it “will ask that Tesla must advertise to consumers and better educate Tesla drivers on Tesla’s capabilities.” its ‘Full autopilot and autonomous driving capabilities, including cautionary warnings about feature limitations and other actions, as appropriate, given violations.’

Gore noted that this action relates solely to Tesla’s marketing and advertising practices around Autopilot and FSD. The California DMV is conducting a separate safety review of the “intended design and technological capabilities of Tesla vehicles” to determine if they can be used on public roads without a special permit.

The DMV, Gore said, wants to prevent misunderstandings and misuse of new vehicle technologies by drivers.

The Los Angeles Times previously reported on DMV filings with the administrative body.

Tesla has fifteen days to respond to the charges in administrative court, otherwise the DMV will make a decision for non-compliance.

Tesla includes its Autopilot driver-assist features in all of its newly manufactured cars and sells a premium FSD (or Full Self Driving) option for $12,000 upfront or by subscription for $199 per month. Sometimes the company sells an enhanced autopilot option with a portion of the premium features included.

Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker also allows drivers to test unfinished driver-assist features on US public roads through a program called FSD Beta (or Full Self Driving Beta).

Only Tesla owners who have the company’s premium FSD system installed can participate in FSD Beta. Owners must earn a high driver safety score, as determined by Tesla software that monitors their driving, and then maintain it to continue using FSD Beta. The company said it has already rolled out FSD Beta access to more than 100,000 drivers, the majority in the US.

Automakers, including Tesla, must now report significant collisions involving advanced driver assistance systems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tesla vehicles accounted for about 70%, or more than 270, of reported crashes involving these systems between June 2021 and July 2022, according to federal figures released in early July. The data is not intended to indicate which automaker systems might be safer.

The NHTSA has also launched at least 37 special investigations of collisions involving Tesla vehicles in which the company’s driver assistance systems were thought to be a factor. At least 17 fatalities resulted from those collisions that inspired NHTSA’s special accident investigations.

The NHTSA has also opened an evaluation of Tesla’s Autopilot technology to confirm whether it is defective and should be recalled, after a series of accidents in which Tesla vehicles hit stationary emergency vehicles.

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