California DMV accuses Tesla of falsely portraying its vehicles as fully autonomous

Tesla uses advertising language on its website for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving products that is untrue and misleading to customers, the California DMV said. Corresponding The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, the agency has filed complaints with California’s Bureau of Administrative Hearings, accusing the automaker of making statements “not based on fact” that make it appear that its vehicles are capable of fully autonomous driving. In the complaints, the DMV pointed to the name of the products themselves, as well as other misleading terms on Tesla’s website.

An example that the DMV noted in its complaints is the language Tesla used for its Full Self-Driving product stating:

“You just have to get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination. Your Tesla calculates the best route.” , Navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways.”

Tesla vehicles come with the hardware needed to activate Full Self-Driving, which customers can unlock by paying $12,000. The automaker’s active autopilot features include the ability to automatically change lanes and parallel or perpendicular park for the driver. There’s also a smart summoning feature that allows the vehicle to navigate complex parking lots to find its owner. And those who pay for FSD, which is currently in beta, will have access to a feature that recognizes stop signs and traffic lights. The technology then automatically slows down your car as you approach.

However, no technology can drive a car without a person behind the wheel. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said FSD would have that capability within the next year, but the executive is known for his aggressively optimistic timelines.

While Tesla is already warning drivers not to take their hands off the wheel, even when using Autopilot or FSD, the DMV says the disclaimer isn’t enough. The worst outcome the company could face would be the suspension or revoking of its licenses in the state, but a DMV spokesman told the publications the agency is not trying to put the company out of business in California. It will only ask Tesla to “better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and other actions that are appropriate given the violations.” “

Back in 2016, Tesla also ran into trouble with Germany’s Kraftfahrtbundesamt, which asked the automaker to stop using the term “autopilot” in its advertising amid fears people would misinterpret its capabilities. Last year, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Trade Commission to also investigate the company for its “deceptive advertising and marketing” of Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies.

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