Tesla and drivers who filed a lawsuit last year over the delayed rollout of the automaker’s updated semi-autonomous Autopilot system have agreed to settle the case for $5 million, according to Electrek. The settlement, if it’s approved by the court, would require Tesla to pay affected owners between $20 and $280.
The lawsuit offered harsh words for Tesla’s rollout of the so-called Enhanced Autopilot, which the automaker introduced in October 2016. The rollout was slow, however, and it took far longer than expected for Autopilot 2.0 to reach parity with the original set.
Electrek said it obtained the settlement proposal that was sent to class representatives. A copy of it wasn’t immediately available from the court, but Tesla confirmed the proposal in a statement to Jalopnik, saying it has continued to provide updates since the introduction in October 2016, and the recent customer response “to our recent Autopilot updates has been overwhelmingly positive, so we know we’re on the right track.”
“That said, as time passed since we first unveiled Hardware 2, it eventually became clear that it was taking us longer to roll out these features than we would have liked or initially expected,” Tesla said. “We want to do right by those customers, so as part of a proposed settlement agreement for a class action lawsuit filed last year, we’ve agreed to compensate customers who purchased Autopilot on Hardware 2 vehicles who had to wait longer than we expected for these features.”
The package for Enhanced Autopilot is priced at $5,000, while a currently unavailable “Fully Self-Driving” is being sold for $3,000. Tesla historically has rebuffed any legal complaint filed against the company—indeed, at the time the suit was filed, the automaker called it “disingenuous” and “sensationalistic”—but it’s fully staking out responsibility for the slow rollout here.
The proposed settlement also comes at a time the automaker is facing scrutiny from safety regulators over two recent crashes involving Tesla cars operating in Autopilot. One crash in late March left the driver dead; the automaker pointed to user error as being the primary fault of the incident, sparking an unusually public rebuke from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is examining the crash. If approved by the court, Tesla said, customers will receive different amounts “depending on when they purchased and took delivery of their cars.”
“Although the settlement is specific to customers in the US, if it is approved by the court, we’ve decided to compensate all customers globally in the same way,” the company said. “There’s no legal obligation to do so, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Electrek reported the settlement would pay $20-$280 for “all U.S. Tesla owners who bought or leased cars with Enhanced Autopilot between October 2016 and September 2017.”
Here’s more from the story:
In order to resolve the matter, the two parties engaged in a mediation with mediator Randall Wulff and it resulted in an agreement, according to the settlement that Electrek obtained.
The automaker denied any intention to defraud buyers or to settle on those claims, but it agreed to compensate buyers for the delays in order to resolve the matter.
Tesla agreed to place $5,032,530 in a settlement fund to partially reimburse “U.S. residents who purchased Enhanced Autopilot in connection with their purchase or lease of a Tesla Hardware 2 Model S or Model X vehicle delivered to them on or before September 30, 2017.” The fund will also be used to pay the attorneys’ fees and the class representative fees.
The agreement, Electrek notes, also calls for Tesla to reaffirm “its commitment to release any Enhanced Autopilot features that as of the Effective Date are not already released in Tesla Hardware 2 Vehicles.”
Now, it’s a question of whether the settlement’s approved. The plaintiffs’ attorney isn’t saying much for the time being.
In an email, a spokesperson for the attorney said: “It’s the firm’s policy not to comment on a potential settlement until it has been filed publicly with the court for approval.”