Tesla Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over Autopilot Capabilities

20 April 2017, 7:20 am EDT By Sumit Passary Tech Times
Law firm Hagens Berman filed a class-action lawsuit against Tesla over autopilot capabilities. The lawsuit claimed that the company failed to deliver the promised Enhanced Autopilot to consumers and misled them.  ( Spencer Platt | Getty Images )

Elon Musk-owned Tesla appears to have upset some customers regarding the autopilot capabilities of its vehicles. Owners report that the feature malfunctions and may even pose serious hazards to those who decide to engage it.

Law firm Hagens Berman has filed a class-action lawsuit against the electric carmaker for misleading consumers about the functionalities of Autopilot 2.

What The Lawsuit States

On Wednesday, April 19, the class-action lawsuit was filed at a San Jose district court in California. It alleges that the autopilot feature — for which consumers had to shell out an extra $5,000 — is "essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous."

Three separate car owners have come together to file this lawsuit. They stated that while Tesla sold them vehicles with "Enhanced Autopilot" capabilities, none of them have been able to use this technology freely as it lacks the basic safety features.

"Tesla has endangered the lives of tens of thousands of Tesla owners across the country, and induced them to pay many thousands of dollars for a product that Tesla has not effectively designed," alleged the law firm.

The complaint notes that Tesla sold roughly 47,000 affected Model X and Models S vehicles in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017. The complaint states that all the vehicles were sold with the malfunctioning self-driving features and the functionality cannot be used.

The lawsuit cited a customer report and noted that Autopilot 2.0 software update resulted in the vehicle "behaving as if a drunk driver is at the wheel."

"Contrary to what Tesla represented to them, buyers of affected vehicles have become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous if engaged," reads an excerpt from the filed lawsuit.

Tesla's Response

Needless to say, Tesla defended its products vehemently when news of the lawsuit reached company officials. Tesla dismissed the claims made in the complaint as "disingenuous". It also revealed that some features which the lawsuit alleges have not been included in Autopilot 2, have in reality already been released.

Tesla asserted that from the outset it maintained that Enhanced Autopilot software would be pushed out incrementally. It stressed that features would be introduced continuously, as and when validations were completed and given the necessary regulatory approval.

"The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety," noted Tesla.

Tesla has been trying to perfect self-driving car technology for some time now. Tesla's CEO Musk even went so far to state that the autopilot feature, which is integrated in the company's cars, is the most advanced.

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