The California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of mispromoting driver-assist technology in two complaints that could affect its ability to sell cars in the state.
The agency said Tesla misled customers by claiming in ads that vehicles with Autopilot and a full self-driving capability program were autonomous. If successful, Tesla’s license to manufacture and sell cars in California could be suspended or revoked.
Tesla makes untruthful, untruthful, or misleading statements when promoting vehicles that have or may have Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) features Or circulated. July 28th.
The Los Angeles Times previously reported on agency complaints separate from a review of Tesla’s vehicle design and technical capabilities.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and company lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday night.
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In marketing materials on its website, Tesla said its driver-assist technology can move “without the need for any action by the person sitting in the driver’s seat.” Despite Tesla’s disclaimer that the program “requires active driver monitoring,” the claims and other content are false and misleading, the agency said.
Autopilot, available since 2015, is a system that allows the company to independently steer, brake and accelerate its vehicles. But it’s designed primarily for highway use, and company documentation says that if the system malfunctions, the driver must keep his hands on the wheel to control the car.
Its name is borrowed from an aviation system that allows an airplane to fly in ideal conditions with limited pilot input. In the current system, the car will disengage autopilot if the driver is not holding the wheel at all times.
For the typical buyer, the added functionality is minimal. For example, in city traffic, a car will stop at a red light, but will not proceed after a green light unless the driver intervenes.
Musk said in May that about 100,000 fully self-driving buyers would have access to a “beta” test version of the service. This allowed the city streets to be navigated more extensively, and the driver kept his hands on the wheel in case something went wrong. He also said that full self-driving cars will be “feature complete” and available to about 1 million car owners by the end of the year.
When Autopilot came out in late 2015, Mr. Musk began saying Tesla cars would be self-driving within two years. Since then, he has repeatedly claimed that such abilities will be realized in just a year or two.
“There are so many false dawns in autonomous driving,” he said in May. “Even when you think you’ve solved the problem, you realize you’ve reached your limits.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the nation’s leading motor safety regulator, is investigating Autopilot after it became aware of 35 crashes, including nine that killed 14 people. That study covers 830,000 of his cars sold in the US and looks at full self-driving and autopilot.
Tesla has until next Friday to contest the California Department of Motor Vehicles accusations or otherwise respond.