Tesla ran into troubles with some regulators and consumer watchdog groups this year over the use of the word ‘Autopilot’ to describe its advanced driver assist system. They expressed concerns that users would think it could mean the vehicles are autonomous. Tesla managed to successfully defend its position so far and always reiterated that the ‘Autopilot’ is named after the system used in aircraft and it doesn’t make them autonomous.
Now it seems Tesla is already having troubles with its new “full self-driving capability” feature which is not available yet, but Tesla is currently selling it anyway.
Tesla aims to release the feature via an over-the-air update late in 2017, but the company includes a disclaimer on the website:
Please note that Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a statement claiming that it might not be enough to justify to selling a “fully self-driving feature” that is not available in the car:
“Any statement representing products or services should be true, accurate and able to be substantiated. Including a statement that the self-driving functionality is subject to regulatory approval may not be sufficient to avoid any legal obligations which arise, If regulatory approval is not provided, then the business could be liable to compensate consumers under the Australian Consumer Law and may also be subject to legal action from the Government. If a business needs to qualify its advertisements, it must make sure the qualifying statements are clear and prominent so that consumers know what the offer is.”
A Tesla spokesperson responded to the ACCC’s problem with the disclaimer in a statement to Drive:
“Tesla prides itself on transparent and clear communications with its customers, and it has done that here,” the brand says in a statement. Our website states that the ability to use our self-driving functionality is dependent on extensive software validation and regulatory approval, and that Tesla does not know when that approval will be received. While Tesla believes this message is clear to its customers, we are considering some additional minor edits nonetheless.”
We will keep an eye out for those possible edits. Of course, the idea of having the customer pay for the feature right now is to pay for the hardware (sensors, onboard computer, etc.) necessary to enable the update while Tesla works on the software.