The California state legislature passed a bill today that would make it illegal for Tesla to label its software Full Self-Driving (FSD). The bill was inspired by the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s claim that Tesla’s FSD is “false advertising.”
The DMV would revoke Tesla’s license to make and sell EVs in the state if it got its way and said that Tesla would be “required to advertise to consumers and better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including cautionary warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and for other actions as appropriate given the violations.”
In other words, Tesla would have to pay for traditional advertising for its products to please the DMV. The DMV is conducting a review and Tesla plans to fight back. Tesla asked for a hearing to present its defense but the state legislator has lost patience so it decided to try to make the DMV’s rule a new state law.
The bill was sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Lena Gonzalez and passed by the Senate. The next step is for Governor Gavin Newsom to either sign it into law or veto it. Gonzalez said that Tesla’s false advertising of its technology is a safety issue and told the LA Times that she and her fellow legislators were puzzled at the DMV’s slow response to Tesla’s claims.
It should be noted that Tesla has never said FSD was fully autonomous and requires drivers to be alert and ready to take over at all times when engaging either FSD or Autopilot. For FSD Beta testers, Tesla has a strike system that will kick out a beta tester for unsafe driving once they reach five strikes.
“Are we just going to wait for another person to be killed in California?” Gonzalez said.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2022
I think that Gonzalez is exaggerating, with her question. Clearly, Tesla is not responsible for all of the deaths in California.
So far, there haven’t been any deaths as a result of FSD and although the National Highway Safety Transporation Administration is investigating several accidents involving Tesla and Autopilot, those investigations are still ongoing.
So unless the NHTSA comes out and says, “Hey Tesla actually did kill those people,” Gonzalez can not say that Tesla was responsible for those deaths. I mean, she can but it wouldn’t be true.
Also, this whole thing started with the DMV wanting Tesla to traditionally advertise its products and services. If this becomes state law, would Tesla have to traditionally advertise in the state of California to be able to make and sell its vehicles in the state? Or would the lawmakers require a name change?
F*ck Elon Musk.
— Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (@LorenaSGonzalez) May 10, 2020
Perhaps California is tired of Tesla and the prosperity that Tesla has brought to the state. Perhaps the state doesn’t want Tesla to be a job provider there.
This isn’t a safety issue, but an issue, I think, where the politicians hate Elon Musk and are letting their bias get in the way. And when politicians make decisions, it’s the people who have to suffer the consequences.
If Tesla were to decide to leave California altogether, it would hurt the state’s economy and Tesla’s employees living in the state. I don’t think Tesla would actually do that but it might, especially if it’s banned from selling cars because the state doesn’t like the name FSD.
Also, Elon could just rebrand it to not-FSD or not-FSD-yet.
Note: Johnna is a Tesla shareholder and supports its mission.