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Consumer Groups Want FTC To Investigate Tesla’s “Autopilot” Ads

By Michael Grothaus, FAST COMPANY

May 23, 2018…

The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog, two U.S. consumer advocacy groups, are requesting that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way Tesla represents its “Autopilot” feature, reports Reuters. The consumer groups say the feature’s name and the advertising and marketing around the feature is misleading. The groups say the way Tesla markets the feature makes it seem like Autopilot makes a Tesla vehicle self-driving when in actuality it’s just an enhanced cruise control and partially automated braking and steering system.

Though Tesla does state in its vehicles’ manuals that when Autopilot is engaged the driver must still keep their hands on the wheel at all times, the consumer groups still allege that the company “mislead[s] and deceive[s] customers into believing that Autopilot is safer and more capable than it is known to be.” In a letter to the FTC, they go on to say, “Tesla is the only automaker to market its Level 2 vehicles as ‘self-driving,’ and the name of its driver assistance suite of features, Autopilot, connotes full autonomy . . . The burden now falls on the FTC to investigate Tesla’s unfair and deceptive practices so that consumers have accurate information, understand the limitations of Autopilot, and conduct themselves appropriately and safely.”

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