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Consumer Groups Say Tesla’s “Autopilot” Is Deceptive Marketing



Two consumer groups, the Center For Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog, have sent a joint letter to the Federal Trade Commission alleging that the way Tesla uses the word “Autopilot” in its marketing is deceptive and potentially dangerous. The groups write, “Two Americans are dead and one is injured as a result of Tesla deceiving and misleading consumers into believing that the Autopilot feature of its vehicles is safer and more capable than it actually is.” (It might help the credibility of the Center For Auto Safety if it didn’t feature a lemon as part of its official logo.)

Tesla Autopilot“After studying the first of these fatal accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that over-reliance on and a lack of understanding of the Autopilot feature can lead to death. The marketing and advertising practices of Tesla, combined with Elon Musk’s public statements, have made it reasonable for Tesla owners to believe, and act on that belief, that a Tesla with Autopilot is an autonomous vehicle capable of ‘self-driving’.

“Consumers in the market for a new Tesla see advertisements proclaiming, ‘Full Self Driving Hardware on All Cars.’ They are directed to videos of Tesla vehicles driving themselves through busy public roads, with no human operation whatsoever. They see press releases alleging that Autopilot reduces the likelihood of an accident by 40%.

“They also hear statements like ‘the probability of an accident with Autopilot is just less’ from Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk. Or they hear him relate Autopilot in a Tesla to autopilot systems in an aircraft. Such advertisements and statements mislead and deceive consumers into believing that Autopilot is safer and more capable than it is known to be.”
Read the rest at Clean Technica.

I'm personally against any form of "semi-autonomous" system (IMO a bogus term bordering on oxymoron) that employs auto-steering, but I see several holes in the arguments in this letter. Very controversial......
 

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Those are fighting words. This will not be met with reflective contemplation by Tesla.

But I must say that somehow, Tesla drivers and many in the general public have the idea that a Tesla is a self driving car. Where did that misunderstanding come from?
 

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GM got it right naming their system "Super Cruise", but I bet the number of lawyers employed by GM and the number of lawsuits against GM over the decades gives them a decided advantage over Tesla. I bet GM has more lawyers on retainer than Tesla has engineers.

Tesla needs to rename their system.
 
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The Cadillac "Super Cruise" is the better system because it allows the driver to rest their hands and feet (I use the regular "cruise" in all my cars to rest my right foot), but it keeps the driver's eyes on the road most (if not all) of the time. Until all vehicles can see, sense, and communicate with each other (Vehicle to Vehicle or V2V) to determine all moving objects around them, and have trustworthy sensors for obstacles, pedestrians, cyclists, and animals, there will not be a fully autonomous system in place.

I wish to ride in a fully AV system someday, as we all get older and reduce our reaction time to dangerous conditions, so we do need more help from our cars. But many drivers will not do it carefully, so collisions will continue, unless the AV can wrench the controls and avoid careless drivers from doing so. And that alone will either help or break the total AV systems.
 

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Funny to see a minor Tesla fansite/blog questioning the credibility of a 48-year-old not-for-profit founded by Ralph Nader and Consumers Union.

Tesla would have more credibility in this matter if they hadn’t been selling cars with a “full self driving” option for 19 months now.
 
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