Judge Rules Tesla Must Face Autopilot False Ad Claims

California DMV Says Automaker Misled Customers
Tesla wheel
(Drew Angerer/Bloomberg News)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Tesla Inc. failed to persuade an administrative judge to dismiss claims by a California regulator that the company overstated its vehicles’ self-driving capabilities — one of several ongoing regulatory investigations of the electric-car maker’s marketing.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has alleged that Tesla disseminated false statements about its “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” driver-assistance features, leading customers to believe they are more advanced than they are.

The June 10 ruling comes less than a month after a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Tesla must face a proposed class-action lawsuit by consumers making similar claims.

The advancing cases represent a fresh setback for the electric car maker just as CEO Elon Musk has staked the company’s future on autonomy.

Elon Musk


Musk declared in April that Tesla is “going balls to the wall for autonomy” while committing the carmaker to a next-generation, self-driving vehicle concept called the robotaxi. The billionaire entrepreneur has talked a big game about autonomy for over a decade, and has persuaded customers to pay thousands of dollars for its Full Self-Driving, or FSD, feature. The name is a misnomer — FSD requires constant supervision and doesn’t render vehicles autonomous — but Musk has repeatedly predicted it’s on the verge of measuring up to the branding.

Meanwhile, the company faces federal probes into whether defects in its Autopilot driver-assistance feature have contributed to fatal crashes, as well as investigations by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Tesla made misleading claims about Autopilot to the public.

In April the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe into whether the EV maker’s recall of more than 2 million cars months earlier adequately addressed Autopilot safety risks.

Tesla and the California Department of Motor Vehicles didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: