A lawsuit filed in San Francisco by a Tesla owner claims the automaker and its CEO / Technoking Elon Musk are “deceptively and misleadingly” marketing the Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” advanced driver assistance features that are available as paid software add-ons (via Automotive News).
The filing claims Tesla and Musk “deceived and misled consumers regarding the current abilities of its ADAS [advanced driver-assistance system] technology and by representing that it was perpetually on the cusp of perfecting that technology and finally fulfilling its promise of producing a fully self-driving car,” and that “contrary to Tesla’s repeated promises that it would have a fully self-driving car within months or a year, Tesla has never been remotely close to achieving that goal.”
The plaintiff, Briggs Matsko, says he spent $5,000 for the package in 2018, like many Tesla drivers who’ve paid thousands of dollars for Enhanced Autopilot. That was sold as a precursor to “Full Self-Driving” tech, a now $15,000 software add-on package that still isn’t ready to ship. Matsko is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, while the company is already facing another class-action lawsuit targeting “phantom braking incidents” that have plagued the adaptive cruise control features on Teslas for years.
The lawsuit calls out Tesla’s features terminology, including the name “Autopilot,” as well as Elon Musk’s public statements and tweets regarding the perpetually unfinished Full Self-Driving system. It specifically mentions Musk’s claim that an autonomous US cross-country trip will be performed by 2018, and his 2019 claims about putting 1 million robotaxis on the road, saying, “A year from now, we’ll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software… everything.”
The road trip was eventually put on hold indefinitely, with Musk admitting that it would need a specialized route to work, and saying he preferred to have the Autopilot team focus on safety features. The robotaxis have not become a reality.
As for Full Self-Driving, the lawsuit backs its claims of fraud using this 2016 video released by Tesla — and still featured on its website — seemingly demonstrating a Model X leaving a garage, driving through a city, dropping off the “driver,” and then automatically finding a parallel parking spot to wedge itself into. Reportedly, former Tesla engineers that were there for the video’s production claimed the car used a pre-charted and 3D mapped route — technology that is not built into any production Tesla.
The lawsuit also makes the case that not only are Full Self-Driving and Autopilot misrepresented, but they’re also dangerous. It points to incidents like the 2018 crash where a Model X on Autopilot crashed into a concrete barrier in California, killing the driver, or another one where a Tesla on Autopilot crashed into the back of a stationary fire truck, prompting a federal investigation.
Matsko’s lawsuit says he’s looking for “injunctive relief prohibiting Tesla from continuing its deceptive and misleading marketing of its ADAS technology, restitution of the money Plaintiff and Class members paid for technology that Tesla promised but never delivered, and all available damages including punitive damages to punish Tesla for years of using deceptive and misleading marketing to eventually establish itself as a dominant player in the electric vehicle market.”