California regulator accuses Tesla of false advertising autopilot

California regulator accuses Tesla of false advertising autopilot
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The California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla in two complaints of falsely advertising its driver assistance technology, which could affect the company’s ability to sell cars in the state.

The agency says Tesla misled customers by claiming that cars equipped with its Autopilot and Fully Self-Driving programs were autonomous in ads. If the agency’s complaints to the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings are successful, Tesla’s licenses to manufacture and sell cars in California could be suspended or revoked.

Tesla “made or disseminated untrue or misleading and factual statements in advertising vehicles equipped or potentially equipped with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features,” the agency’s complaints said. July 28.

Los Angeles Times informed The agency’s earlier complaints are separate from its investigation into Tesla’s vehicle designs and technological capabilities.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and an attorney for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening.

In marketing materials on its website, Tesla said its driver-assistance technology is capable of making trips “without requiring any action by the person in the driver’s seat.” Despite Tesla’s denials that the apps “require active driver control,” the claim and others were false and misleading, the agency said.

Available since 2015 is a system capable of Autopilot drive, brake and accelerate company cars on your own. But it’s designed primarily for highway use, and company documents require drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and drive the car if the system malfunctions.

Its name is derived from aviation systems that allow aircraft to fly themselves in ideal conditions with limited pilot input. With the current system, the car will turn off Autopilot if drivers don’t consistently keep their hands on the wheel.

Additional features are minimal for the typical buyer. When they are used on city streets, for example, the car will stop at a red light, but will not move after a green light unless the driver intervenes.

In May Mr. Musk said about 100,000 Fully Self-Driving buyers had access to a “beta” test version of the service that could navigate city streets more broadly — with drivers still keeping their hands on the wheel in case anything went wrong. He also said that the Full Self-Driving feature will be “complete” and available to about one million car owners by the end of the year.

At the end of 2015, when Autopilot debuted, Mr. Musk began to say that Teslas will be self-driving within two years. In later years, he repeatedly claimed that such an ability was only a year or two away.

“There are a lot of false dawns with self-driving,” he said in May. “You think you’ve solved the problem, and then—no—it turns out you’ve just hit the ceiling.”

The nation’s leading auto safety regulator is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration autopilot research after becoming aware of 35 accidents involving the system, including nine involving 14 fatalities. Its investigation covers 830,000 vehicles sold in the US and will look at Autopilot as well as Full Self-Driving.

Tesla has until next Friday to contest or otherwise respond to the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ charges.

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