California DMV: Tesla Falsely Advertised Autopilot, Full Self-Driving

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has become the latest regulator to complain about the way Tesla describes its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features to consumers.

The Los Angeles Times reports(Opens in a new window) that the California DMV filed two complaints with the Office of Administrative Hearings on July 28 in which it said Tesla “made or disseminated statements that are untrue or misleading, and not based on facts,” regarding its autonomous driving capabilities.

National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy made similar complaints in September 2021. Homendy told(Opens in a new window) the Wall Street Journal that Tesla’s branding is “misleading and irresponsible” and has “clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology.”

It’s easy to see how. Tesla makes it clear on its website(Opens in a new window) that neither of its self-driving add-ons offers truly autonomous driving capabilities, but what are people supposed to expect from a pair of features called Autopilot and Full Self-Driving if not vehicles capable of driving themselves?

Tesla also says that “all new Tesla cars have the hardware needed in the future for full self-driving in almost all circumstances” and were “designed to be able to conduct short and long distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.”

The company notes that it will release those features over time as it continues to refine its tech and receive approval from regulators. But it’s clearly attempting to instill confidence in its self-driving technologies based on its expectations for the future rather than its current capabilities.

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The California DMV told the Times that, if its action succeeds, it “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.”

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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