Germany has banned automaker Tesla from repeating what a court has said are misleading advertising statements relating to the capabilities of the firm’s driver-assist system, the Autopilot. According to a Reuters news report, the case was brought by Germany’s Wettbewerbszentrale, an industry-sponsored body tasked with policing anti-competitive practices.
Consumers May Be Misled
The court in Munich agreed with the industry body’s assessment and banned Tesla Germany from including the descriptions “full potential for autonomous driving” and “Autopilot inclusive” in its German advertising materials. It said such claims amounted to misleading business practices, adding that the average buyer might get the impression that the car could operate without human intervention and might suggest that such a system was now legal on German roadways.
Tesla’s Autopilot system has drawn much criticism from regulations including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) saying it lacks necessary safeguards. Safety experts have become increasingly concerned about the driver-assist system that can perform driving tasks for extended periods of time with little or no human intervention. We’ve seen this feature tempting drivers to neglect their obligation to be in control of their vehicles at all times.
Tesla has continually maintained that it has informed consumers that Autopilot is a driver-assist technology and not a fully autonomous system. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said this month that his company was pretty close to making cars capable of fully autonomous driving without any need for driver input, or so-called Level 5 autonomy.
Serious Safety Concerns
Our auto defect lawyers raised the red flag years ago about Autopilot because we saw the writing on the wall when people began to post videos of them reading books and watching videos while their vehicle cruised on Autopilot. Tesla initially did not make it clear to drivers that Autopilot had limited capabilities. The name “Autopilot” in itself was criticized by Consumer Reports and other safety advocates because it suggests a level of autonomy of which the vehicles were not capable.
As Tesla moves forward developing this technology further, we urge them to exercise care and caution when it comes to safety testing. While autonomous vehicles may be inevitable, it is critical that tech companies and automakers do their due diligence before putting these cars on public roadways. Safety should come before everything else – even innovation.