Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward J. Markey have sent a letter to the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, asking the organization to investigate Tesla for what they allege are deceptive business practices.
“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,” the senators write in the letter. “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.”
The senators point to the names “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” as deceiving owners into believing their vehicles can do more than they are designed to do. That may be a major part of the reason that Autpoliot and FSD have been involved in at least 11 crashes in emergency vehicles, according to an investigation recently launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Indeed, Tesla itself admitted in a letter to the California DMV that “Full Self-Driving” is not an autonomous driving system and constitutes only Level 2+ self-driving technology. Standard Autopilot is a level 2 system, per the company. Despite that, Tesla is accused of continuing to market the technology in a way that encourages people to believe they can climb out of the driver’s seat while moving.
“Tesla and Mr. Musk’s repeated overstatements of their vehicle’s capabilities – despite clear and frequent warnings – demonstrate a deeply concerning disregard for the safety of those on the road and require real accountability,” they wrote. “Their claims put Tesla drivers – and all of the traveling [sic] public – at risk of serious injury or death.”
The senators close by asking the FTC to take “appropriate enforcement action to prevent further injury or death as a result of any Tesla feature.”
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