The California DMV has accused Tesla of misleading practices in marketing Autopilot and fully self-driving options.

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

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of engaging in deceptive practices in the marketing of its Autopilot and fully self-driving driver assistance systems, according to filings with the state’s regulatory agency.

Elon Musk’s electric car business has more at stake than its name suggests — in a worst-case scenario, the company could temporarily lose its license to operate as a vehicle manufacturer and auto dealer in California.

On July 28, a pair of California Administrative Hearings officials and DMV attorneys wrote:

“Instead of simply identifying product or brand names, these ‘autopilot’ and ‘fully self-driving’ labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with ADAS features operate as autonomous vehicles, but that vehicles equipped with those ADAS features cannot operate as autonomous vehicles at the time of those announcements and now. .

Anita Gore, deputy director of the California DMV’s office of public affairs, told CNBC in an email that if the department wins, it will “require Tesla to advertise to consumers and educate Tesla drivers more about its capabilities.” Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including warnings about the limitations of the features, and other measures for violations as appropriate.

Gore said the action concerns Tesla’s marketing and advertising practices around Autopilot and FSD. The California DMV is conducting a separate safety evaluation of “the proposed design and technological capabilities of Tesla vehicles” to determine whether they can be used on public roads without a special permit.

DMV, Gore seeks to prevent driver distraction and misuse of new vehicle technologies.

The Los Angeles Times previously reported the DMV documents to the administration.

Tesla has fifteen days to respond to the charges brought by the administrative court, otherwise the DMV will take a final decision.

Tesla includes its Autopilot driver assistance features in all new production cars and sells the premium FSD (or Full Self-Driving) option for $12,000 upfront or $199 per month as a subscription. Sometimes the company sells an upgraded autopilot option with more advanced features.

Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker is allowing drivers to test the unfinished driver assistance system on public roads in the US through a program called FSD Beta (or Full Self-Driving Beta).

Only Tesla owners with the company’s premium FSD system installed can participate in the FSD beta. Owners must achieve a high driver-safety score, as determined by Tesla’s software that monitors their driving, and then continue using FSD Beta. The company says it has released beta access to FSD to more than 100,000 drivers, most of them in the US.

Automakers, including Tesla, are required to report significant crashes involving advanced driver and assistance systems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Between June 2021 and July 2022, 70% of Tesla vehicles, or more than 270, were involved in crashes involving these systems, according to federal data released in early July. The information is not meant to indicate which car maker’s systems may be safe.

NHTSA has launched at least 37 separate crash investigations into crashes involving Tesla cars in which the company’s driver assistance systems are suspected as a factor. At least 17 people have died in crashes that have prompted NHTSA’s special crash investigations.

NHTSA has opened a review of Tesla’s Autopilot technology to determine if it is defective.

Read the formal complaint filed by the California DMV against Tesla over here And over here.


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