Tesla claims that California agency implicitly supported its ‘Autopilot’ brand

Tesla claims that California agency implicitly supported its 'Autopilot' brand
Tesla claims that California agency implicitly supported its 'Autopilot' brand

Last year, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) accused Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla of falsely misrepresenting its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies.

Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) defended its use of the phrases “autopilot” and “self-driving” for driver assistance functions, claiming in response to a California regulatory action that the agency had tacitly authorized the terms when it did not take action in prior investigations into them.

Elon Musk’s electric car firm was accused by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) last year of falsely advertising its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies as enabling autonomous vehicle control.

The DMV is pursuing remedies that may include suspending Tesla’s license to sell vehicles in California, the company’s largest U.S. market, and ordering the firm to compensate drivers.

Tesla stated in a Dec. 5 filing with the state Office of Administrative Hearings, which was made public on Friday, that the DMV investigated its use of the Autopilot brand in 2014 and of that and other words in 2017.

“The DMV chose not to take any action against Tesla or otherwise communicate to Tesla that its advertising or use of these brand names was or might be problematic,” Tesla said in a statement.

The DMV also opted not to prohibit the use of “self-driving” and related terms in 2016 when developing regulations on comments about autonomous technology, according to Tesla. Tesla said that legislation on the subject also removed a limitation on the terminology that was in an earlier DMV draft.

“Tesla relied upon the claimant’s (the DMV’s) implicit approval of these brand names,” according to the firm.

The DMV said in the 2022 allegations that Tesla misled prospective consumers with advertising that exaggerated the effectiveness of its advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS).

According to Tesla’s website, the technologies “require active driver supervision,” with a “fully attentive” driver with their hands on the wheel, “and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

Tesla’s disclaimer, according to the DMV, “contradicts the original untrue or misleading labels and claims, which is misleading and does not cure the violation.”

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