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Germany may force Tesla to fix its ‘misleading’ Autopilot claims

The EV maker has been spoken to about this before, but nothing ever changed

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While some say that Tesla‘s “Autopilot” system is one of the great automotive developments of the modern era, not everyone agrees. Many, including a German court, think the term is misleading.

According to a recent report by German outlet Spiegel, Tesla‘s odds in an ongoing court case, in which the country’s competition commission is suing the electric vehicle maker over misleading advertising, aren’t looking too good after the case hearing commenced last week.

“The standards of the law against unfair competition are rather strict,” said the presiding judge Isolde Hannamann.

Last year, the German Center for Protection against Unfair Competition (Wettbewerbszentrale) filed a suit against the electric carmaker for claims that calling its collection of advanced driver aids called “Autopilot” is fundamentally misleading.

[Read: Lime e-scooters busted for antipodean bad brake crash cover-up]

Tesla’s Autopilot system is a collection of technologies like lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and automatic braking. The Californian carmaker is continually adding new features, and in the past 12 months enabled the capability to let vehicles effectively drive themselves in urban areas.

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Credit: Dixon - Transportation Research
Elon Musk is no stranger to demonstrating Autopilot as capable of driving itself entirely. Even though Musk takes his hands-off the wheel here, it is wrong and against Tesla’s user agreement for its drivers to do the same. Musk’s action set a misleading expectation of what Tesla vehicles are capable of.

When these driver aids are used together in unison, it can give the impression that the vehicle is driving itself. However, the driver must always remain in control of the vehicle, have their hands on the steering wheel, and be situationally aware. There are currently no laws permitting hands and eyes off self-driving vehicles in Germany.

Tesla’s lawyers claimed that its vehicles do hold up its promises and that it always reminds drivers to remain in control. That said, the company’s flamboyant CEO, Elon Musk, is no stranger to demonstrating the “hands-off” capabilities of Autopilot even if that act is illegal on public roads.

This isn’t the first time that Tesla has been pulled up for how it markets its supposedly autonomous vehicle tech in the European country.

Back in 2016, Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) told the EV maker to stop using the term “Autopilot,” stating largely the same concerns as what is fueling this latest court case. The KBA said the term gave customers “incorrect expectations” that didn’t have to concentrate on the road and could let Autopilot control the car completely, BBC reported at the time.

At present, the case is being heard in Munich district court and, according to Spiegel’s report, the court looks like it’s siding with the competition commission. The course is expected to announce the case’s outcome on July 14.

HT – Teslarati

Published June 22, 2020 — 08:16 UTC