Tesla could face U.S. FTC investigations into self-driving vehicle claims amid Senators urge

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Two U.S. Senators on Wednesday urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla, saying the company had misled consumers and endangered the public by marketing its driving automation systems as fully self-driving.

“Tesla and (CEO) Mr. (Elon) Musk have repeatedly exaggerated the capabilities of their vehicle … a letter to newly appointed FTC Chairman Lina Khan.

“Tesla drivers listen to these claims and believe their vehicles are equipped to drive themselves – with potentially fatal consequences.”

The letter, which came after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration opened an investigation into Tesla’s autopilot on Monday, put pressure on Tesla.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Autopilot is a standard feature on Tesla cars and allows vehicles to keep their distance from cars in front. Tesla sells its advanced driver assistance features such as lane changes and automated parking under the name Full Self-Driving (FSD) for $ 1,000 (about Rs.74,260), even though the system does not make its vehicles fully autonomous.

Musk, who has nearly 60 million Twitter followers, often uses the term FSD and generally refers to the Tesla feature package, but many consumers understand it to mean fully autonomous driving. Musk has touted the safety of the technology, promising that its vehicles would soon be driving themselves just to miss its own deadlines.

The NHTSA announced in June that it has opened 30 investigations into Tesla crashes since 2016, in which the agency suspects advanced driver assistance systems have been used.

The NHTSA said in a letter to Tesla in 2018 that the company had made “misleading statements” about the safety of its Model 3 and confused consumers. The agency referred the matter to the FTC to investigate whether Tesla’s statements were “improper or misleading acts or practices.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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