California's Dep't of Motor Vehicles Puts The Cuffs On Tesla
Of all the powerful institutions that are skeptical of, or worried about Tesla's self-driving ambitions — certain US lawmakers, auto industry experts, safety regulators — the one that may finally be able to flex enough muscle is the unglamorous and almost universally dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Matt McFarland reported for CNN Business.
Photo Insert: A scene from Tesla's annual shareholder meeting this year
Tesla is peddling its "full self-driving" technology as an add-on that, in theory, lets the car's computers navigate local roads with steering, braking, and acceleration. Trouble is, "full self-driving" is anything but.
The feature does not allow a driver to check out and watch TikTok or take a nap on the way to work — far from it. In fact, it requires drivers to be on alert in case — and these are Tesla's own words — the car does "the wrong thing at the worst time."
Despite the tech's obvious flaws, auto regulators, like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), have so far proven toothless against Tesla. So, where can we find a hero who'll stand up to the world's most valuable carmaker and its comic-book-villain-impersonating CEO?
Enter the California DMV, its long paper cape billowing in the faint wind from a single oscillating fan under dim, flickering lights, Allison Morrow also wrote for CNN Business.
The department recently filed a complaint with the state, essentially accusing Tesla of false advertising. Namely: It says the names "full self-driving" and "Autopilot" suggest the vehicles are autonomous when they aren't.
Such deceptive labels could be grounds for suspending or revoking Tesla's license to sell vehicles in the state.
Tesla can't afford to lose California, the state where the company was founded, and its biggest US market by a mile. But for now, it's unclear how Tesla and the DMV's differences might be resolved, and the conflict could include lengthy litigation.