California DMV accuses Tesla of false advertising. At issue: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of false advertising in its promotion of the company’s signature Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies.

The agency alleges the electric carmaker misled customers with advertising language on its website describing Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies as more capable than they actually are.

The company “made or disseminated statements that are untrue or misleading, and not based on facts,” the DMV said in a pair of complaints filed with the state Office of Administrative Hearings on July 28.

The DMV complaints point to the very names of the technologies, as well as other “misleading” language such as the following, which appears on the Tesla’s website Autopilot page:

“All you will need to do is 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 will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways.”

The remedies proposed by the DMV if it prevails could be severe, including revocation of the company’s licenses to make or sell its cars in California. But actual remedies would likely to be much softer.


A DMV spokesperson said Friday via email that if its action succeeds, “the DMV will ask that Tesla will be required to advertise to consumers and better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including cautionary warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and for other actions as appropriate given the violations.”

In June, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk underlined the importance of Full Self-Driving to the company. Without FSD, Tesla is “worth basically zero,” he said.

The Full Self-Driving feature costs $12,000 and purports to automatically pilot the car on freeways, city streets, and neighborhood roads; automatically obeys traffic signals; and roam a parking lot without a driver to park itself.

Despite the name, no car available for purchase by individuals is capable of fully autonomous driving from Tesla or any other company.


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