Tesla wants to face its accusers in a hearing and provide a counterargument to allegations of false advertisement relating to Autopilot and Full-Self Driving. The EV maker filed a hearing notice on Thursday, according to Reuters, where Tesla will likely present a defense before a judge of its advertising practices.
Tesla wants a chance to defend itself after California’s Department of Motor Vehicles accused the EV maker of having “misled prospective customers with advertising that overstated how well its advanced driver assistance systems worked.” The California DMV said that Tesla characterized the features in its EVs in an “untrue and misleading” way.
It’s not actually true that any Tesla model, can, indeed, fully drive itself, or operate without driver input or attention once FSD or Autopilot is engaged. But up until now, Tesla had been able to dodge legal consequences to calling its ADAS systems by misleading names. The formal complaint the California DMV brought against Tesla, however, has proven too serious to ignore: Tesla could even lose its license to manufacture EVs in the Golden State, albeit temporarily.
Tesla bought a bit of relief from the allegations of false advertisement after it started including disclaimers in ads; the carmaker’s fine print warned that “active driver supervision” was required even with the features on, but Autopilot and FSD have become shorthand for advanced AV features.
The truth is that both Autopilot and FSD actually rank low on the SAE scale of vehicle autonomy — as a Level-2 driver-assist system out of a possible five. And what’s worse, Tesla’s features have proven laughably easy to trick so that they may be exploited in unsafe ways.
Reuters doesn’t go into detail about how Tesla plans to defend its use of the names Autopilot and Full-Self Driving in the upcoming hearing. But it’s likely that Tesla will make a similar argument to the one it recently used in a German court, which ruled Tesla could go on advertising its ADAS as before.
On Tuesday, a court in Frankfurt said Tesla could keep using “the phrases ‘full potential for autonomous driving’ and ‘Autopilot inclusive’ in its German advertising materials.” Now that Germany let Tesla get away with it, the EV maker’s likely been emboldened, and is taking on California, too.