German Court Labels Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Claims As “Misleading”

Jul 14, 2020   

A court in Munich has ruled Tesla’s statements relating to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving as being “misleading.”

Tesla Germany is subsequently banned from stating that Full Self-Driving adds the “full potential for autonomous driving” in its advertising materials as a result of the court’s ruling. Similarly, Tesla can also no longer use the term “Autopilot inclusive” when describing its vehicles in the country.

Ultimately it was decided that those claims were misleading business practices, as they give the impression that a Tesla could be driven without human intervention which at this point isn’t possible. Autopilot still requires a driver’s full attentiveness to be safely utilized. Full Self-Driving is also not yet legal or regulated on German roads.

Tesla has stated that customers are informed that its driver assistance system is not fully automated. Autopilot requires a driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel, though it has come under criticism in multiple countries (including by the National Transportation Board in the U.S.) for not including enough safety precautions.

Elon Musk has stated that the automaker is close to achieving Level 5 autonomy, which would no longer require any input from a driver once fully implemented. “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference on Thursday. Further adding, “I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year.”

Tesla currently sells Full Self-Driving Capability for $8,000 in America, with the promise of Level 5 autonomy to be attainable on Tesla’s current hardware suite.

Real Talk

In our opinion, Tesla’s claims relating to Full Self-Driving are being prematurely advertised to consumers. The company could be more clear in its marketing materials about what features are currently inclusive in Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, as well as the limitations that are faced.

We’ve found some customers to not be properly educated about Autopilot at the time of purchase, which ends up leaving some surprised that the system still requires a driver’s full attentiveness. These are customers that are purchasing new vehicles from Tesla directly, which makes it slightly concerning as Tesla representatives should take the time to explain the capability and current state of autonomous features to customers.

We have no reason to doubt Musk’s claims, but find that Tesla could do more to educate customers about timelines and also about the actual usage of “Autopilot” as the definition implies the system is at a higher level of autonomy than it currently is.