New California Law Bans Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving’ Marketing Term
California Governor Gavin Newsom has passed a new law effectively banning Tesla from marketing its in-development autonomous driving software as “Full Self-Driving” in the state starting in 2023 — reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The news comes after the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced plans to “revisit” its approach to regulating Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature at the beginning of the year. In August, the DMV told the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings that Tesla’s “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” branding was misleading.
Full Self-Driving is Tesla’s suite of advanced driver assistance features, available as a $15,000 USD upgrade or a $199 USD/month subscription. “Autosteer,” which is arguably the essence of FSD, is currently in a public beta that Tesla owners who purchase the FSD upgrade or monthly subscription can sign up for.
California’s new law was proposed as Senate Bill 1398 and sponsored by Democratic state Senator Lena Gonzalez of Long Beach. It explicitly prohibits vehicle manufacturers and dealers in California, Tesla’s largest market in the U.S., from “deceptively naming or marketing” a car as self-driving if it is equipped only with partially-autonomous driving features and still requires the driver to pay attention and take over as needed.
This bill “increases consumer safety by requiring dealers and manufacturers that sell new passenger vehicles equipped with a semiautonomous driving assistance feature… to give a clear description of the functions and limitations of those features,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
Tesla lobbied against the bill as it made its way through the Legislature, contending that it already informs customers of FSD’s limitations. Last month, the electric automaker even held an FSD beta demonstration at the California DMV headquarters for transportation officials and outside consultants.
Right now, however, Tesla’s autonomous driving software is “Full Self-Driving” in name only. Even the latest iteration of the FSD beta remains at Level 2 of the SAE’s driving automation scale, while a car can’t be considered capable of fully driving itself until it reaches Level 5.
In September, Tesla was hit with a class-action lawsuit in San Francisco alleging that the company has been misleading customers and the public about Autopilot and FSD since at least 2016.