Tesla Buyers Ask Calif. Judge To Shut Down 'Full Self Driving'
Tesla buyers asked a California federal judge to order CEO Elon Musk and his auto company to deactivate "full self-driving" on all its vehicles and bar him from making "false and deceptive" promises about its capabilities, saying further promotion will cause irreparable harm, "horrific accidents" and potentially deaths.
Tesla Inc. and Musk are nowhere close to delivering on a vehicle with the grand self-driving capabilities promised, despite six years of "gross exaggerations," the buyers said. Yet, many of those who bought into the billionaire's "lie" by purchasing one of his cars are at risk, according to a motion filed by a proposed class of Tesla owners who are suing the company.
"As a result, a significant number of Tesla owners, who have been understandably impressed by the bells and whistles of an exciting new technology, lack an accurate understanding of the technology's significant limitations, are over-relying on that technology, and are getting into one horrific accident after the next," the motion filed Wednesday said.
The plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction that would force the company to turn off full self-driving software on all its vehicles and send notifications to Tesla owners that the system would remain off until the company could prove to the court that it works properly. They urged the court to halt the automaker's sales of the feature until it fixed all issues identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The bid also asks the court to stop Musk from overstating the actual abilities of the vehicles to the public and bar the company from using the "Full Self Driving" label until it actually functions as such.
"Tesla and Musk have long made, and consistently continue to make, false and deceptive claims about FSD's abilities," the motion said. "The claims greatly endanger the public every day that they are allowed to continue."
Named plaintiff Briggs A. Matsko initially filed suit against Tesla in September. His case has since been consolidated with those of four other California residents who all say they purchased Teslas and paid several thousands of dollars above the asking price to get the "advanced" driver assistance system. All were made to believe that the self-driving feature would control the car for them or that, within a few short months, software upgrades would get it to that level, according to the suit.
But the company has admitted to regulators that its technology is nowhere near the promises Musk has made, the suit says.
"Instead, Tesla pushes out "updates" to its experimental FSD Beta software to a small minority of Tesla owners, who effectively act as untrained test engineers testing experimental software on public roadways. Drivers have consistently found that Tesla's FSD Beta software has myriad problems, such as cars failing to make routine turns, running red lights, and steering directly into large objects and oncoming traffic," the drivers said.
Matsko also cites a number of accidents involving Tesla vehicles, including a 2018 crash in which the software allegedly steered a vehicle directly into a concrete barrier on a California highway and incidents in which the vehicles hit stationary obstacles, like an overturned tractor-trailer.
For the proposed class of drivers, the original sin was Musk and Tesla's 2016 stunt to announce the self-driving feature, which showed video of a man in the driver's seat of one of the vehicles seemingly allowing the system to navigate, with text stating that the "person in the driver's seat is only there for legal reasons." The video was later revealed to be a fraud, the drivers' filing said.
Despite this, the company continues to use the label, fooling consumers into thinking it's truly an autonomous vehicle, and Musk gets to make public statements that the program is almost at level 4 or 5 technology — meaning full automation without any input necessary from a driver — but implying he can't release it due to "regulators," according to the drivers' motion.
While the company and executive argue that consumers can't claim to be deceived because "Full Self Driving" is just a branding name that is "merely aspirational" and printed vehicle materials explicitly state as much, this does not give the company an out, the drivers said.
"Tesla cannot give its products misleading names, and Musk cannot say whatever he wants regarding FSD, so long as corrective statements are available elsewhere," the motion said. "Plaintiffs and class members who believed Tesla's misrepresentations about FSD were not required to research the veracity of those claims." (To read the entire article, please click HERE)