The California Motor Vehicle Agency (DMV) has accused Tesla of lying to consumers about its self-driving technologies and has filed a lawsuit in a state administrative court, according to news reports released Friday.
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Tesla “has made or disseminated statements that are false or misleading and not based on fact,” the DMV said in those complaints filed July 28, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Tesla cars have never been, and cannot today, operate as autonomous vehicles, according to the document cited by the California newspaper.
The DMV criticizes Tesla for advertising language that gives these systems broader performance than they actually have.
Contacted by AFP, the DMV did not immediately respond.
A victory by the Californian authorities against the electric vehicle manufacturer could have serious consequences, up to and including the revocation of the licenses authorizing Tesla to manufacture or sell its cars in California, continues the LA Times, which specifies that the planned Measures relate but to the accuracy of the information that the manufacturer must make available to its customers.
In June, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stressed the importance of fully autonomous driving to the company, adding that without it, his company’s value would be “nearly zero.”
Tesla shares fell 6.63% to $864.51 at the close on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Tesla vehicles equipped with self-driving software have been involved in 273 accidents in the United States, according to a report by the US Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA), which investigates the American manufacturer’s driver-assistance system.
His report focuses on vehicles with so-called Level 2 software, which can accelerate or slow the car and turn the steering wheel if necessary, but requires an alert driver who is ready to take back control at any moment.
Overall, Tesla models were the subject of nearly 70% of the reports of the 392 accidents listed in this category, almost all between July 2021 and mid-May 2022, according to NHTSA.