A California Tesla owner claims that the company has never delivered on its promise to produce fully autonomous vehicles.
A recently filed lawsuit accuses Tesla of misleading the public by falsely advertising its vehicles’ Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Features.
According to Reuters, the proposed class action claims that Tesla and its owner, Elon Musk, have “deceptively” suggested that fully autonomous vehicles are “just around the corner,” despite knowing that the technology either did not exist or was too defective to be integrated into any of its current commercial products.
“In every year since 2016, Tesla and Musk have repeatedly made deceptive and misleading statements to consumers indicating that a fully self-driving, fully autonomous Tesla vehicle was just around the corner, often expressly stating that would occur by the end of that calendar year or ‘within the next year’,” the lawsuit states.
“Tesla has yet to produce anything even remotely resembling a fully self-driving car,” plaintiff Briggs Matsko said in a statement.
Matsko claims that Tesla has repeated its claims of autonomous vehicles to “generate excitement” about its vehicles, attract investments, and avoid bankruptcy, all whole solidifying its market position.
The lawsuit, adds USA Today, cites several statements made about Tesla’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems—the name of its so-called “autopilot” technology—made both by Musk and the company.
In one such 2016 release, Tesla uploaded a video showing one of its vehicles navigating itself through busy streets and intersections without any human assistance.
“In reality, Tesla employees [who] made the video would later reveal that the car in the video had significant assistance from commercial mapping software not available to Tesla customers, and that the car still performed poorly and even ran into a fence during filming,” the lawsuit claims.
The video, says the complaint, is still featured “prominently” on the company’s website.
Between 2017 and 2019, Tesla repeatedly promised on its webpage that some versions of its vehicles would be capable of “full self-driving in almost all circumstances,” and would be able to “conduct short and long distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.”
Musk also allegedly said that Tesla vehicles would be able to perform autonomous cross-country drives in 2016 and again in 2019.
USA Today notes that no Tesla automobile has yet completed an autonomous cross-country journey.
Matsko, adds Reuters, said he paid a $5,000 premium for his 2018 Tesla Model X to receive “Enhanced Autopilot.”
However, Matsko said that drivers who receive regular software updates effectively act as “untrained test engineers,” endangering themselves to help Tesla better configure its assisted driving systems.