Tesla will no longer have the right to lie about the autonomous driving of its electric cars

Tesla’s famous fully self-driving capability is a hit. In fact, a law just passed in California may prohibit the manufacturer from continuing to designate it in these terms.

Tesla Model 3 in Autopilot Navigation // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

Tesla FSD (to Full Self-driving, or full autonomous driving in France) refers to the manufacturer’s most advanced driver assistance package. It is with this capability in beta in the US that the vehicle can navigate in an urban environment in particular by responding to lights, to signs and by taking complex intersections under the supervision of the driver.

Lawmakers in California just introduced a law that would essentially prevent Tesla from continuing to talk about this self-driving option under the same name.

A behavior that is independent in name only

When we hear the terms “autopilot” and “autonomous driving”, it is quite logical to think that they allow for “autonomous” driving of a vehicle. With Tesla, when this possibility exists, it is not: the driver is completely responsible for the actions of the vehicle and he must be able to regain control at any time. As you will have understood, this is level 2 autonomy, and not level 5 as the name suggests.

Starting January 1, 2023, Tesla may have to change the name of its driver assistance options, according to the latest US Senate bill that just passed.

A dealer or manufacturer may not sell a new passenger vehicle equipped with a partial drive automation feature or provide a software update or other vehicle upgrade that adds a partial drive automation feature. Partial driving without, at the time of vehicle delivery or upgrade, providing the purchaser or owner with a separate notice stating the name of the feature and clearly describing the features and limitations of the feature.

A manufacturer or dealer may not mention any partial driving automation feature or describe a partial driving automation feature in marketing materials using language that suggests or would otherwise lead a reasonable person to believe that the feature enables the vehicle to operate as a autonomous vehicle, as defined in section 38750, or whose functionality is not actually included in the feature. A violation of this subdivision will be considered misleading advertising under § 11713.

Excerpt from Senate Bill 1398

This law comes after several complaints and allegations made by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has had Tesla in its sights for several years. We’ll see how the automaker responds as we head into 2023, but it’s likely the naming of its fully autonomous driving capability will have to change.

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