California DMV Says Tesla Misled Customers With Autopilot and FSD

The California DMV finally decided to take action against Tesla for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving promises 8 photos
Photo: Tesla
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Journalists and experts have been asking the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for years about Tesla’s practices regarding Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD). Some months after the company moved its headquarters to Texas, the Californian agency decided to accuse Tesla of misleading customers by overpromising the capabilities of its two advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
According to the Los Angeles Times, the DMV said Tesla “made or disseminated statements that are untrue or misleading, and not based on facts.” They include the very names of the systems and also promises of what they will eventually do when they are put into production. Currently, these features are beta, which means they are still being tested. If you count their names, this is just the second reason for controversy around Autopilot and FSD.

While regular software can reach customers as beta, it is temerarious that they do so while these folks are driving. Should anything go wrong, you don’t just reboot a computer in the best-case scenario or format the hard drive in the worst one. If the system crashes, you may crash a two-metric-ton machine.

Among these promises, Tesla says that the car will take the driver and passenger wherever they tell it to go. If they don’t, the vehicle will guess where to drive them based on their calendars. Not only that: it will do so through the best routes. So far, Tesla vehicles can’t even drive themselves in the Boring Company tunnels in Las Vegas, which would be a pretty predictable route.

The Los Angeles Times published one of the DMV's two complaints against Tesla. For the delight of Tesla investors and advocates, the complainant is Ailene Short, the branch chief of DMV’s Occupational Licensing Operations. As they accuse anyone criticizing the company of being shorts – or short-sellers – at least they’ll be partially right this time.

Short said that Tesla could not have made these promises nor named its beta systems as it does. For these things, she asked the DMV “to suspend or revoke Respondent's manufacturer license and special plates number 63277.” Short also said the Californian agency should ensure Tesla pays “restitution to the persons or institutions who have suffered financial loss or damage, according to proof.”

This makes it look like the start of something that is already happening in Germany. In that country, Tesla was condemned to buy back three cars due to failures with the equivalent of FSD and Autopilot. If the DMV takes any measure against the EV maker, it may show that the tide is turning for Tesla in its home market.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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