Germany Bans Tesla's Misleading 'Autonomous' Driving Ad Statements

A German court ruled that Tesla's advertising statements about 'autonomous' cars were misleading.
Brad Bergan

Germany banned Tesla from repeating what a court claims are misleading advertising statements about the automaker's vehicle capabilities — specifically, the driver assistance systems and autonomous driving — according to a ruling from a judge on Tuesday.


Germany bans Tesla's 'autonomous' advertising statements

Germany's Wettbewerbszentrale — an industry-sponsored organization that polices anti-competitive practices — submitted the case. Tesla may appeal the ruling, Reuters reports.

The Munich court ruled along with the industry body's assessment, banning Tesla Germany from using the phrases "Autopilot inclusive" and "full potential for autonomous driving" in German advertising campaigns.

This ruling found that Tesla's advertising statements amounted to misleading business practices, adding that average buyers might not know that a Tesla can't actually drive without human assistance, and might even make drivers in Germany think autonomous systems are legal on German roads.

"A legal framework for autonomous inner-city driving doesn't even exist yet in Germany," said a lawyer for the organization named Andreas Ottofuelling in a press statement, reports CNBC. "And other functions aren't working yet as advertised."

Criticism of Tesla's autopilot, autonomous systems

Tesla's autopilot system drew criticism from regulators like the United States' National Transportation Safety Board — which said it lacks safeguards.

Worries have emerged about assistance systems that perform driving tasks for extended stretches of road with little to no human interaction, which tempts drivers to neglect their role and forget that the vehicles in motion need drivers' full attention at all times.

However, Tesla has said it tells customers that the automated driver assistance technology does not qualify as a fully autonomous driving system.

Other auto manufacturers usually use six levels of autonomous driving — as defined by SAE International — to express developments about these emerging technological capabilities. Level 4 implies automated driving, which means the vehicle can perform all driving functions in the right conditions. However, no one sells a Level 4 autonomous vehicle.

Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric car manufacturer would soon be able to make its cars capable of automated driving without any driver output — the coveted Level 5 autonomy.

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