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Senators Want Tesla Investigated Over ‘Misleading’ Autopilot Claims

Two U.S. Senators, both Democrats, asked on Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation into Tesla over potentially misleading practices in the advertising of its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features.

“Tesla’s marketing has repeatedly overstated the capabilities of its vehicles, and these statements increasingly pose a threat to motorists and other users of the road. Accordingly, we urge you to open an investigation into potentially deceptive and unfair practices in Tesla’s advertising and marketing of its driving automation systems and take appropriate enforcement action to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road,” wrote Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts in a letter to Lina Khan, chair of the FTC.

“We fear that Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features are not as mature and reliable as the company pitches to the public,” the senators further wrote.

According to Blumenthal and Markey, “Tesla drivers listen to these claims and believe their vehicles are equipped to drive themselves – with potentially deadly consequences.”  

At least 11 people have died in fatal crashes with Autopilot activated since Tesla introduced the feature in 2015, say the senators.

The letter from the lawmakers comes days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal safety preliminary evaluation into the Autopilot feature of Tesla.

“Since January 2018, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has identified eleven crashes in which Tesla models of various configurations have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes,” NHTSA said.

Tesla has already had its use of the term “Autopilot” banned in one market outside the United States—Germany.

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Last summer, a German court ruled that Tesla can’t use its ads for the Autopilot driver-assistance system in Germany because it is misleading to consumers. The court said the ads incorrectly suggested that the car could drive on its own, while in reality, the technology still needs the driver to be vigilant at all times.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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