Electric carmaker Tesla has been hit with a new consumer class-action suit in federal court alleging the company falsely advertised its autopilot and full self-driving features.
Plaintiff Briggs Matsko bought a Tesla Model X in 2018, paying $5,000 extra for the enhanced autopilot feature. Tesla marketing indicated that the car was able at the time of purchase to self-drive in some situations, and would soon be able to fully self-drive.
“It is now four years later, and Tesla has never provided plaintiff anything remotely approaching the fully self-driving car it promised to provide,” the suit, which was filed Wednesday, contends.
An international automation standard describes a fully automated car needing no human driver in any conditions as “Level 5.” Despite ads claiming its cars will soon jump to that level, the suit says Tesla models are still only at Level 2, where the driver “is fully responsible for driving the vehicle while the system provides continuous assistance with both acceleration/braking AND steering.”
In a 2016 Recode interview, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said “I think we’re basically less than two years away from complete autonomy,” as quoted in the class-action suit.
The complaint also notes that Tesla competitors such as Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Waymo have already surpassed the company in autonomous driving performance.
Mr. Musk has continued to claim that a jump to Level 5 is coming soon, telling Business Insider in December 2020 that “I’m extremely confident that Tesla will have level five next year, extremely confident, 100%.” But Tesla officials have been telling regulators a different story, the suit says.
The California DMV filed two actions in July against Tesla claiming its falsely represented its autopilot features, writing in their legal complaints that “vehicles equipped with those … features could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles.”
Tesla has not yet responded to a request for comment.