California passes law banning deceptive self-driving claims

Tesla vehicles do not offer full self-driving functionality, and one state is taking action to make sure it can’t advertise them as having the technology. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a new law that prohibits automakers from advertising vehicles as self-driving that still require human intervention.

Though Tesla sells an expensive “Full Self-Driving” upgrade for its vehicles, the system is not fully developed and is not ready for unrestricted public use. Even when or if it reaches that point, the system does not turn a Tesla into a fully autonomous vehicle and does not absolve the driver from the responsibility to take control. Similarly, the Tesla Autopilot function is closer in operation to advanced adaptive cruise control than it is to a system that could indefinitely control the vehicle without driver input.

The new legislation doesn’t name or target Tesla directly, but the automaker is the leading EV producer in the United States, and its advanced technologies have caused more than their fair share of controversy and been involved in notable crashes. Officials shut down the San Francisco Bay Bridge on Thanksgiving after a Tesla said to be using FSD abruptly stopped, causing collisions that injured 18 people.

The NHTSA has opened investigations into Tesla’s driver assistance features after multiple crashes, several of which were fatal. Drivers using FSD or Autopilot have been involved in many roadside accidents with stationary emergency first responder vehicles. In some cases, the Autopilot system disengaged just one second before the impact.

Tesla buyers appear fed up with the marketing scheme as well. Several filed a class action lawsuit against the automaker earlier this year, claiming false advertising of the self-driving tech. The company has pushed to have the owners pursue resolution through arbitration, which it has done successfully in the past, but the judge in the case has not ruled on whether to allow forced arbitration.

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