U.S. Senators Urge FTC to Investigate Tesla About Self-Driving Claims

Tesla Autopilot 7 photos
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Tesla could not get more bad news about Autopilot and FSD. If it was not enough to have NHTSA investigating why its cars crash so much against parked emergency vehicles, now the Senate Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey also went after the company. They wrote a letter to Lina Khan asking the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to investigate Tesla for allegedly misleading customers and endangering the public by promoting its driving aid systems as capable of full self-driving.
Although Tesla denies that in communications with authorities and its manuals, both the company and Elon Musk have already said more than once that their systems are safer than human drivers. Tesla’s CEO has also already said that autonomous driving was “basically a solved problem,” that drivers in Tesla’s cars would commute with no driver input (back in 2018), and that Teslas were appreciating assets because they would become Robotaxis soon.

While Tesla fans treat that as merely missing deadlines, Mahmood Hikmet made an hour-long video showing many of Tesla’s autonomous driving promises over the years. Like the U.S. senators now asking for FTC to intervene, he believes that Tesla is autonowashing its cars.

This expression was coined by Liza Dixon, “a doctoral candidate researching human-machine interaction in automated driving,” as she defined herself in her website. In her own words, it means that “it makes something appear to be more autonomous than it really is.”

According to Reuters, Blumenthal and Markey wrote this in their letter to FTC:

“Tesla and Mr. Musk’s overstatements of their vehicle’s capabilities… demonstrate a deeply concerning disregard for the safety of those on the road and require real accountability. (...) Their claims put Tesla drivers – and all of the traveling public – at risk of serious injury or death.”

According to FTC’s website, it “protects consumers by stopping unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace.” To do that, the commission can “conduct investigations, sue companies and people that violate the law, develop rules to ensure a vibrant marketplace, and educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities.” That is what may be coming for Tesla if Lina Khan decides to take the senators’ letter as her first task as FTC’s new chair.
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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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