Last month, we reported on Hagens Berman, one of the law firms leading a class action lawsuit against VW and Mercedes for the emissions-cheating software, attempting to start a class action against Tesla over the claims made for Autopilot 2.0 features: Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving capabilities.
They have now officially filed the class action led by 3 Tesla owners.
In the actual class-action, they seem to have focused on the ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ feature instead of the self-driving feature, which, as we pointed out when they were seeking participants for the suit, they didn’t seem to understand.
As for ‘Enhanced Autopilot’, they are calling it “essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous”. Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, which represents the plaintiffs, said:
“Tesla has endangered the lives of tens of thousands of Tesla owners across the country, and induced them to pay many thousands of dollars for a product that Tesla has not effectively designed. Tesla sold these vehicles as the safest sedan on the road. What consumers received were cars without standard safety enhancements featured by cars costing less than half the price of a new Tesla, and a purported ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ that operates in an erratic and dangerous manner.”
He continued by saying that “to this day, Tesla has not released truly functional software for its Standard Safety Features or Enhanced Autopilot.”
While the suit states correctly that Tesla missed a few deadlines with bringing AP2 cars to parity with the first generation vehicles, the notes for the Enhanced Autopilot option clearly reads that it is “dependent on extensive software validation and regulatory approval”.
Furthermore, the lawsuit incorrectly describes the current features of the Autopilot on vehicles with second generation hardware as only having “a dangerously defective Traffic Aware Cruise Control” and “the remaining features simply do not exist.”
Of course, that’s inaccurate. Tesla’s ‘Summon’ feature has been released on Autopilot 2.0, as well as several updated versions of Autosteer and now even Auto Lane Change. They should actually know that since I mention it in an article that they are using as a reference in their own lawsuit.
The suit is not only seeking for Tesla to buy back the vehicles, but they also want damages for “the conduct of Tesla related to the defective Standard Safety Features and Enhanced Autopilot” and what they describe as “Tesla’s knowing fraud that garnered it illicit profits for a product suite that does not exist and put drivers at risk.”
We asked Tesla for a comment on the class-action, but we didn’t get an answer.
Update: a Tesla spokesperson sent us the following statement:
This lawsuit is a disingenuous attempt to secure attorney’s fees posing as a legitimate legal action, which is evidenced by the fact that the suit misrepresents many facts. Many of the features this suit claims are “unavailable” are in fact available, with more updates coming every month. We have always been transparent about the fact that Enhanced Autopilot software is a product that would roll out incrementally over time, and that features would continue to be introduced as validation is completed, subject to regulatory approval. Furthermore, we have never claimed our vehicles already have functional “full self-driving capability”, as our website has stated in plain English for all potential customers that “it is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.” The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety.
Here’s the suit in full if you want to read: