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Tesla may violate requirements of new California law

The electric car company continues to advertise its Full Self-Redriving option, despite the recognition that the technology is not self-contained, it seems to violate a particular aspect of government regulations.
California, Tesla’s main US market for electric cars, passed a new law in early 2023 that requires car manufacturers and dealers to avoid “misleading marketing” of partially automated driving technology as fully autonomous. So far, however, Tesla seems to be ignoring a key element of this rule by continuing to advertise its so-called full autonomous driving feature to California customers, although the company has admitted that this does not make its cars fully autonomous.

The rule signed by Governor Gavin Newsome last September states that “the manufacturer or dealer shall not name any partial driving automation function or describe any partial driving automation function in marketing materials using language, which imply or may otherwise make a reasonable person believe that this function allows the car to function as an autonomous vehicle”. It also requires dealers and manufacturers (Tesla is both under California law) to give a clear description of the possibilities and limitations of partial driving automation functions.

“Marketing this feature as full self driving, I think, quite clearly lulls drivers with a false sense of complacency”.

However, as of January 4, California customers ordering Teslas directly from the company’s website – the only place they are available for sale – are still asking if they want to add the Full Self optionDriving $15,000 to configurable cars. Although the site notes that “the features currently included require active driver control and do not make the car autonomous”, the continued use of the title of the feature appears to directly violate the new law.

“It is simply not safe to call driver assistance software self-propelled. Therefore, compliance with this law depends on the car inspection,” said Adam Kovacevic, Executive Director of the Chamber of Progress, a group of interests seeking to tighten the rules of marketing automated driving technologies. ” Tesla software is an amazing software for driving automation, but it is not software for a stand-alone vehicle. She advertises this feature as a Full Self-driving, and I think it quite clearly lulls drivers with a false sense of complacency”.

In the Tesla description of its Full Self-Driving function, it is noted that it does not actually provide autonomous driving. TESLA
The California Department of Motor Vehicles informed Forbes via e-mail that it will “send notice to customers in the industry where the new law will be discussed and possible consequences of non-compliance”.

He also reported that prior to the introduction of the new law, he “in July 2022 filed charges against the licences of the manufacturer and dealer Tesla in California for misleading and misleading advertising regarding the use of the term “full self-driving” and the description of “autopilot”. The DMV is at the trial stage and will not comment further on the charges until the trial is completed”.

Tesla did not respond to the request for comment.

The California rule, the first of its kind in the United States, was created to reduce confusion among drivers who wrongly believe that their cars can operate autonomously, with no hands on the wheel or need to pay attention. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently considering dozens of accidents, including fatalities, involving partially automated Tesla driving functions. Although Tesla informs drivers that they must keep an eye on the road conditions and be ready to take control of the car, Tesla fans regularly publish videos about Tesla’s alleged independent driving capabilities.

Every violation of California’s marketing rule can be punished with a fine of up to $250, according to the Washington Chamber of Progress. If Tesla does not change its marketing language and maintains the same sales in California in the first half of the year as in the same period in 2022, the company may be fined up to $45 million, according to the Chamber.

Tesla has been debating the use of the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving terms to describe its functions for many years. Despite Musk’s claims, Tesla engineers and lawyers had previously told government and federal regulators that these functions were not in fact autonomous.

“There is no doubt why the California legislature was concerned about passing the law: They wanted Tesla to stop calling it full autonomous driving. There is no mystery here,” said Eric Goldman, professor of law and co-director of the Santa Clara University Institute of High Tech Law. “We know that Elon Musk’s companies are selective about the rules. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t”.