Regulators in Germany are looking into Tesla’s Autopilot features and whether or not these are safe enough to use on German roads. The Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt confirmed that it’s opened a new investigation, as reported by CNBC and German news site Bild am Sonntag. The investigation is pending the results, but the use of Autopilot in Germany could hinge on the KBA’s ruling.
This is on top of another recent KBA investigation, which focused on the safety of Tesla’s center console touchscreen system, used in many of the company’s models. Between the misleading names of Tesla’s Autopilot and “Full-Self Driving,” and the company’s penchant for allowing drivers to play games in a moving car, Tesla is facing more and more regulatory inquiries. Now, from many different countries.
This latest probe in Germany comes after the federal government in the U.S. opened several investigations into Tesla’s automated features, and Bild reports that NHTSA is in contact with the KBA as both agencies investigate the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot.
The German KBA is also coordinating with regulators at the RDW, which is the big vehicle agency in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is reportedly a key member state whose rules apply to much of the EU, so any decisions from the Dutch agency will have wide-ranging effects for Tesla.
When we say that Tesla is just a regular car company now, we’re referring not only to Tesla fitting in with legacy automakers — if not in sales volume, at least in relevance — but also to Tesla having regular car company problems. Those include facing scrutiny over the safety of its features.
Because for a long time, Tesla’s features were something of a novelty. I’d say the novelty was a big part of how Tesla broke out as a new company. Well, that and it being electric, of course. Tesla’s approach resembled that of the tech industry more than Big Auto, and so did its popularity. Tesla owes much of its fame to YouTube and the many videos of new features/tech from its users, like word of mouth but orders of magnitude greater. The word of the internet’s mouth.
The difference now is that features like “FSD” and “Autopilot” are no longer novelties or gimmicks. They are systems that could endanger more and more drivers as Tesla takes off in Germany. That danger is now being acknowledged.