Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during the Tesla China-made Model 3 Delivery Ceremony in Shanghai on January 7, 2020.
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California DMV regulators accused Tesla of deceptive marketing over its driver assistance systems.
Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving Capability” does not operate as claimed, according to the complaint.
Penalties may include suspension or revocation of the company’s license to sell cars in the state.
Regulators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles are targeting Tesla’s license to sell cars in the state after accusing the company of deceptive business practices over its marketing of what it calls its “Full Self-Driving Capability.”
Tesla’s marketing claims the cars function with “autopilot” or “Full Self-Driving” capabilities — for a $12,000 pricetag — suggested that the vehicles operate autonomously, according to the complaints filed July 28.
“All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go,” one Tesla advertisement cited in the complaint read. “If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban steets, complex intersections and freeways. To your Destination – When you arrive at your destination, simply step out at the entrance and your car will enter park seek mode, automatically search for a spot and park itself. A tap on your phone summons it back to you.”
But, because the company’s vehicles “could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now” operate without a driver, the marketing violates California law about advertisements using untrue claims to market their products, according to the complaints.
“Respondent made or disseminated statements that are untrue or misleading, and not based on facts, in advertising vehicles as equipped, or potentially equipped, with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features,” the pair of complaints against Tesla’s dealership and manufacturing divisions read.
The penalty for the violations may include suspension or revocation of the company’s license to sell cars in the state, as well as paying restitution to customers who were deceived by the marketing, according to the complaint.
“The undersigned prays that the Departrnent of Motor Vehicles take such action against the license of the Respondent as is warranted by the facts of this case,” the complaint, signed by regulator Ailene Short, the chief of the industry services branch of the DMV’s occupational licensing division, read.
Elon Musk said in a June interview that creating reliable self-driving technology is “essential” to the financial success of the company.
“[T]he overwhelming focus is on solving full self-driving,” Musk said in an interview with the YouTube channel “Tesla Owners Silicon Valley,” published Tuesday. “That’s essential. It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero.”
But the billionaire has been making big promises about self-driving features for years, despite customer complaints, and the fact that Teslas accounted for 273 of nearly 400 US crashes involving driver-assist systems in the last year.
In 2019, Musk said he was “certain” that by the end of that year, Teslas “will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention.”
Representatives for Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.