An owner is suing Tesla over false advertising about its Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving systems – the latter is still in beta mode but available to around 100,000 owners who have high safety scores.
The lawsuit was filed today in a federal court in San Francisco and is seeking unspecified damages on behalf of people who bought a Tesla from 2016 onwards equipped with either Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, or Full Self-Driving.
Briggs Matsko, the plaintiff named in case, claims Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk misled the public by saying the technologies were either fully functioning or “just around the corner” even though they knew otherwise.
In the lawsuit filing, Matsko says, “Tesla has yet to produce anything even remotely approaching a fully self-driving car”.
He goes on to say that when software updates are installed, owners “effectively act as untrained test engineers”. Problems found by owners include cars steering into oncoming traffic, running red lights, and failing to make routine turns.
Matsko says the company hyped up its assisted driving technology to “generate excitement” about its cars in order to attract investors, drive up its stock price, and improve sales. It also helped the automaker stave off bankruptcy, and become the “dominant player” in the EV market.
In early November, Musk stated on Twitter: “Closest we got [to bankruptcy] was about a month. The Model 3 ramp was extreme stress & pain for a long time — from mid 2017 to mid 2019. Production & logistics hell.”
The controversially-named Tesla Autopilot is classified a Level 2 self-driving system, meaning the car can drive itself but it needs driver attention and monitoring.
Today’s lawsuit follows on from a case filed in early August by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) against Tesla alleging “untrue or misleading statements” about its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technology.
The DMV says the company’s website promoted “short and long-distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat” while a later disclaimer contradicts this stating the tech “[requires] active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous”.
As part of its filing, the DMV is seeking to suspend or revoke the company’s licence to sell cars in the state, as well as restitution to parties who have suffered damage or financial loss.
To date the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened 38 special cases related to Tesla’s advanced driver assist features, 19 of those involved deaths.