Tesla is in hot water with California DMV over its Autopilot and self-driving claims

Tesla is in hot water with California DMV over its Autopilot and self-driving claims, which the agency believes are deceptive. The company has two weeks to respond to the inquiry, or it risks temporarily losing its licenses to operate as a vehicle manufacturer and auto dealer in California.

Over the years, Tesla has been criticized for how it advertises its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). One of the main concerns has been the actual names of the systems: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability. Some people believe that the names suggest that the systems are autonomous, even though they are only driver-assist systems.

California DMV, which has some authority over Tesla since it has a lot of operations in the state, has shared those concerns in the past.

Now it is putting pressure on Tesla with not one but two filings with California’s Office of Administrative Hearings, claiming that Tesla is falsely promoting those systems as “autonomous” (via CNBC):

Instead of simply identifying product or brand names, these “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving Capability” labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with the ADAS features will operate as an autonomous vehicle, but vehicles equipped with those ADAS features could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles.

The DMV is taking a two-pronged approach where it is pushing for Tesla to change its marketing around Autopilot and Full Self-Driving and also separately probing the capabilities of Tesla’s system as part of a safety review.

Last year, Tesla’s communications with the DMV over Full Self-Driving were released, and they brought some confusion. Some of the comments made by Tesla to the DMV could be interpreted as contradicting what Tesla and Elon Musk are saying publicly.

Tesla has been trying to convince the DMV that its Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta is not a level 4 or 5 self-driving system so it doesn’t have to report data back to the DMV.

On the advertising front, California DMV’s deputy director for the Office of Public Affairs, Anita Gore, said:

It “will ask that Tesla will be required to advertise to consumers and better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including cautionary warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and for other actions as appropriate given the violations.”

Tesla has now 15 days to respond to the inquiries from the DMV, or it is at risk to lose its licenses to operate as a vehicle manufacturer and auto dealer in California

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