Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD Marketing is Misleading, Says California DMV

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California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has alleged that the marketing around Tesla’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD), is deceptive — reports CNBC.

Autopilot is a suite of driver assistance technologies that come standard on all of Tesla’s electric vehicles (EVs). FSD, meanwhile, is a set of advanced driver assistance features available as a $12,000 USD add-on or a $199 USD/month subscription.

Tesla owners who purchase the FSD upgrade can also opt-in to Tesla’s public FSD beta, which is trialling the company’s autonomous driving software.

In two July 28 filings with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, the California DMV said:

Instead of simply identifying product or brand names, these ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with the ADAS features will operate as an autonomous vehicle, but vehicles equipped with those ADAS features could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles.

As a result of the complaint, Tesla could potentially lose its vehicle manufacturing and trade licenses in California, where one of the company’s highest-yield factories is located.

However, the DMV isn’t seeking anything nearly as extreme. Anita Gore, Deputy Director for the Office of Public Affairs at the state agency, said that if successful, 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.”

Gore clarified that these filings pertain exclusively to Tesla’s marketing and advertising practices for Autopilot and FSD.

The California DMV told Tesla earlier this year that it is “revisiting” its approach to regulating the FSD beta. Gore added that the department is currently conducting a separate safety review of “the intended design and technological capabilities of Tesla vehicles” as it seeks to determine if they can be used on public roads without a special permit.

Tesla has fifteen days to respond to the California DMV’s accusations before the administrative court. Failure to engage with the court will give the DMV a default decision.

Late last year, California Senator Lena Gonzalez also urged the state DMV to investigate Tesla’s FSD beta program.

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