Tesla’s claims about Autopilot and self-driving are again being criticized, this time by the California Department of Motor Vehicles in a lawsuit it filed July 28.
The complaint alleges that the company made “false or misleading” statements in advertisements on its website claiming that Tesla the vehicles were or could be equipped with advanced driver assistance system features.
The Tesla (TSLA) advertisements ran in marketing materials on the company’s website “on at least five dates” between May 2021 and July 2022, according to the complaint.
They included descriptions such as “Autopilot” and “Fully self-driving capability” and used wording such as “All you have to do is get in and tell your car where to go…Your Tesla will determine the optimal route, navigating city streets, complex intersections and freeways,” the suit said.
Another claim which the California DMV said was misleading said: “The system is designed to be able to perform short and long trips with no action required from the person occupying the driver’s seat.”
“These advertisements are a deceptive practice” under the California Civil Code, the DMV complaint said.
Tesla generally does not respond to requests for comment.
Tesla issued disclaimers as early as June, warning that features still require active driver supervision, which contradicts “misleading labels and claims,” the complaint added.
Tesla’s advertising actions could cause it to temporarily lose its manufacturer’s license and special plate number in California, the complaint warned.
Data released in June by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that there were 273 crashes in the past nine months involving Tesla driver assistance technologies, caused by either its “full self-driving” software, or its precursor, Tesla Autopilot.
Of 497 total crashes studied by NHTSA, 43% of those caused by driver assist technologies took place in California, the data shows.
Tesla’s Autopilot feature is standard in all of its vehicles, making it one of the the most commonly used autopilot systems in the industry. While Tesla reminds drivers to stay alert when using it, a 2021 MIT study found that users using the system were more distracted and looked away from the road more often than when they were. . driving without the function.
Tesla is 15 days old respond to the complaint in order to avoid a decision by default.
The department said this complaint is separate from an ongoing review of the design and expected technology capabilities of Tesla vehicles.
The Los Angeles Times was the first outlet to report the complaint.
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