California Bans Tesla Full Self-Driving Marketing

California has responded to growing concerns over Tesla’s automated driving claims by banning the use of “Full Self-Driving” in all its advertising and marketing material.

Safety experts have long criticized the automaker’s description of its Autopilot upgrade Full Self-Driving Beta as fooling the consumer into believing the cars have driverless capabilities they simply do not possess. A multitude of accidents involving the vehicles’ adaptive cruise control systems have seen customers found not to have had their hands on the steering wheel, a condition Tesla buried among the small print in its marketing.

Now Senate Bill 1398 was signed into law despite a challenge from Elon Musk’s company which lobbied aggressively against the bill, arguing that it already makes customers aware of the technology’s limitations. Also, while vehicle owners who paid the extra $15,000 for the automated driving upgrade had been required to reach a safety driving score of 80, Musk has since said anyone can now request the FSD suite.
The bill now prevents any carmaker or dealer in the state of California from “deceptively naming or marketing” self-driving features. Its text states that it would “require a dealer or manufacturer that sells any new passenger vehicle that is equipped with a partial driving automation feature” or offering “any software update or vehicle upgrade that adds a partial driving automation feature, to provide the buyer or owner with a consumer notice that describes the functions and limitations of those features”.

Reliability of Tesla’s automated driving software has also been called into question after accidents in both China and the US saw drivers claimed cars would either brake or accelerated uncontrollably without their input. Most recently, one Tesla driver blamed the self-driving technology for an eight-car pile-up that snarled traffic on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge on Thanksgiving. Video of the incident showed a Tesla changing lanes and coming to a stop in the middle of the road causing a traffic jam that lasted hours.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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