Consumer Groups Ask Feds to Launch Probe into Tesla’s Autopilot
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Consumer Groups Ask Feds to Launch Probe into Tesla’s Autopilot

The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog are calling on the Federal Trade Commission “to investigate dangerously misleading and deceptive advertising and marketing practices and representations made by Tesla Motors Inc. regarding the safety and capabilities of its Autopilot feature.”

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The National Transportation Safety Board determined that a truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way and a car driver’s inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation are the probable cause of the fatal May 7, 2016, crash near Williston, Fla.

The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog are calling on the Federal Trade Commission “to investigate dangerously misleading and deceptive advertising and marketing practices and representations made by Tesla Motors Inc. regarding the safety and capabilities of its Autopilot feature.”

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“Two Americans are dead and one is injured as a result of Tesla deceiving and misleading consumers into believing that the Autopilot feature of its vehicles is safer and more capable than it actually is,” the groups said in a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. “The marketing and advertising practices of Tesla, combined with CEO Elon Musk’s public statements, have made it reasonable for Tesla owners to believe, and act on that belief, that a Tesla with Autopilot is an autonomous vehicle capable of ‘self-driving.’”

Tesla’s claims likely violate FTC regulations, the groups assert.

“Tesla has repeatedly exaggerated the autonomous capabilities of its Autopilot technology, boosting sales at the expense of consumer safety,” said Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Jason Levine. “The FTC must step in and expose this charade before more Americans are injured or killed.”

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The burden now falls on the FTC to investigate “Tesla’s unfair and deceptive practices so that consumers have accurate information, understand the limitations of Autopilot and operate their vehicle safely and without endangering themselves or other drivers, passengers or pedestrians on the road,” the groups asserted in a news release.

“Starting with the very name Autopilot, Tesla has consistently and deceptively hyped its technology,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project Director. “Described and marketed responsibly so drivers understood it, Tesla’s technology could enhance safety. Instead it’s killing people.”

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