Two consumer safety groups are calling for federal and state investigations of Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology following several fatal crashes linked to the system over the last few years, according to an article by CNBC.
The investigations could be a problem for the company since Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised that a fully autonomous version of his Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system will be released this year. In addition, the company plans to release a fleet of “robotaxis” using that same Autopilot system in 2020, according to the article.
The Center for Auto Safety based out of D.C. and California’s non-profit, Consumer Watchdog, are calling for an investigation into both the Autopilot system itself and Tesla’s promotion and marketing efforts of the technology, which the group is calling deceptive. The groups point to several crashes, injuries and deaths that have occurred in the last few years while Tesla vehicles were in autopilot mode, according to the article.
Tesla has defended Autopilot, saying, “As our quarterly safety reports have shown, drivers using Autopilot register fewer accidents per mile than those driving without it.” The automaker also said in a statement that there is nothing about the name, Autopilot, that should mislead consumers. It argued that it has gone to great lengths to make consumers aware of the limits of the system in its owner’s manuals, on its website and elsewhere, according to the article.
Both consumer safety organizations want both the Federal Trade Commission and the California Department of Motor Vehicles to launch immediate probes. The groups contend the automaker violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, as well as California consumer law, arguing that the way Tesla markets Autopilot is “materially deceptive and … likely to mislead consumers into reasonably believing that their vehicles have self-driving or autonomous capabilities,” according to the article.
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