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Tesla is being sued in Germany for allegedly false advertising on Autopilot

Tesla is facing an injunction by a consumer protection agency in Germany over what they believe are false claims about the capabilities of its Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” packages.

The Wettbewerbszentrale describes itself as “the largest and most influential nationwide and cross-border self-regulatory institution for enforcing the right to unfair competition.”

They announced that they are filing an injunction against Tesla in Munich:

The Wettbewerbszentrale has criticized various advertising claims such as ‘autopilot included,’ ‘full potential for autonomous driving,’ or ‘by the end of the year: … automatic driving in town’ with the automaker Tesla vehicle assistance functions of a particular vehicle type, as misleading and in the LG Munich I Action for injunctions filed (Case 33 O 14041/19).

The agency has issues with some of the statement made by Tesla on its website:

They think that it is false advertising to suggest you can buy a car that will be autonomous “by the end of the year”:

In the opinion of the Wettbewerbszentrale, it gives the impression that the vehicles advertised in this way could and should drive autonomously by the end of the year 2019. This impression is reinforced by the statement, “By the end of the year: … · Automatic driving in town …” .

That’s even though we’re not at the end of the year yet.

The Wettbewerbszentrale believes that it’s impossible to deliver the feature due to regulations in Germany:

In fact, however, these announcements cannot be fulfilled because some of the functions mentioned in Germany are not yet legally permitted in road traffic and will not be allowed until the end of 2019. The consumer could thus just no vehicle with the function for example, a ‘driving in urban areas’ or an ‘automatic driving on highways’ get.

We contacted Tesla about the injunction and we will update if we get an answer.

Electrek’s Take

I don’t know the law in Germany, and maybe Tesla needs to clarify their statements on their website to comply, but I think Elon already clarified the situation during the last earnings, when he talked about what he means by “feature-complete.”

It’s now clear that what Tesla plans to release (at least in early access) by the end of the year is a driver-assist system like Autopilot, which requires supervision, for city driving and not just for highway driving.

Tesla also has this warning on the configurator:

The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous. The activation and use of these features are dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience, as well as regulatory approval, which may take longer in some jurisdictions. As these self-driving features evolve, your car will be continuously upgraded through over-the-air software updates.

Therefore, I don’t think it’s a significant issue.

However, if any Tesla owner actually thinks that their car is self-driving, then yes, it’s an issue that needs to be corrected, but I have yet to see that.

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