The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog, both
non-profit groups, sent a letter to the FTC saying that
consumers could be misled into thinking, based on Tesla's
marketing and advertising, that Autopilot makes a Tesla vehicle
Autopilot, released in 2015, is an enhanced cruise-control
system that partially automates steering and braking. Tesla
states in its owner's manual and in disclaimers that when the
system is engaged, a driver must keep hands on the wheel at all
times while using Autopilot.
But in the letter, the groups said that a series of ads and
press releases from Tesla as well as statements by the company's
chief executive, Elon Musk, "mislead and deceive customers into
believing that Autopilot is safer and more capable than it is
known to be."
"Tesla is the only automaker to market its Level 2 vehicles as
'self-driving', and the name of its driver assistance suite of
features, Autopilot, connotes full autonomy," the letter read.
"The burden now falls on the FTC to investigate Tesla's unfair
and deceptive practices so that consumers have accurate
information, understand the limitations of Autopilot, and
conduct themselves appropriately and safely," it read.
Two U.S. Tesla drivers have died in crashes in which Autopilot
was engaged. The most recent crash, in March, is being
investigated by safety regulators.
Tesla has said the use of Autopilot results in 40 percent fewer
crashes, a claim the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration repeated in a 2017 report on the first fatality,
which occurred in May 2016. Earlier this month, however, the
agency said regulators had not assessed the effectiveness of the
Last month, another group, Consumers Union, the advocacy
division of Consumer Reports, called on Tesla to improve the
safety of its Autopilot system.
(This version of the story corrects typo in headline.)
(Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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