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Blumenthal & Markey Call for FTC Investigation Into Tesla's Misleading Advertising of Driving Automation Systems

“Tesla and Mr. Musk’s repeated overstatements of their vehicle’s capabilities – despite clear and frequent warnings – demonstrate a deeply concerning disregard for the safety of those on the road and require real accountability.”

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Amid a series of Tesla crashes, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, voiced serious concerns about Tesla’s misleading advertising and marketing of its Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (FSD) features to consumers, and called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation and take enforcement action.

“Tesla’s marketing has repeatedly overstated the capabilities of its vehicles, and these statements increasingly pose a threat to motorists and other users of the road,” wrote the senators to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “Accordingly, we urge you to open an investigation into potentially deceptive and unfair practices in Tesla’s advertising and marketing of its driving automation systems and take appropriate enforcement action to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road.”

“[T]here are no fully autonomous vehicles currently available on the market,” the senators continued, stressing the limitations of Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD technology. “Understanding these limitations is essential, for when drivers’ expectations exceed their vehicle’s capabilities, serious and fatal accidents can and do result.” The lawmakers cited specific examples of Tesla’s advertising to consumers in which the company overstates the capabilities of its technology, including a 2019 YouTube video the company posted on its channel, titled “Full Self-Driving” showing a Tesla driving on its own, which has been viewed more than 18 million times.

“Tesla drivers listen to these claims and believe their vehicles are equipped to drive themselves – with potentially deadly consequences,” wrote the senators, emphasizing that at least 11 people have died in fatal crashes with Autopilot activated since Tesla introduced the feature in 2015. One California driver was arrested for riding in the backseat of his Tesla while the vehicle was in Autopilot on the highway and pointed to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s claims about Tesla’s systems as justification for his actions.

The full text of the letter can be found here.


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