Their letter to the Federal Trade Commission alleges that the automaker’s public statements might have led to crashes and fatalities
Two U.S. senators have called for the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation into whether Tesla has engaged in deceptive marketing practices regarding the capabilities of its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) driver assistance systems.
In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., said they “fear that Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features are not as mature and reliable as the company pitches to the public,” and that “it is clear that drivers take Tesla’s statements about their vehicles’ capabilities at face value and suffer grave consequences.” According to the letter, at least 11 people have died in the U.S. while they were driving Teslas with Autopilot activated since the feature became available in 2015.
The letter follows multiple requests from safety groups and other government agencies for the FTC to examine Tesla’s marketing claims starting in 2018. Despite their names, neither Autopilot nor FSD can make a Tesla fully autonomous. Instead, the features are designed to take over certain steering, braking, and acceleration functions, and they require an attentive driver to remain in control of the vehicle at all times.