Tesla Model S and Model X owners with self-driving hardware have been waiting patiently for the company to bring their vehicles to feature parity with first generation Autopilot cars. Originally promised by the end of 2016, the process is still on going and many customers have grown impatient with the delay.
One of those customers is Consumer Reports, which purchases cars for its test fleet instead of accepting loaners from manufacturers in order to maintain a degree of impartiality in its findings. CR lowered its rating of the Tesla Model S and Model X by two points today because the long promised software upgrade that would enable automatic emergency braking has failed to materialize. The two-car downgrade means the Model S is no longer the top ranked ultra luxury sedan and puts the Model X near the bottom of the rankings for midsize luxury SUVs.
Consumer Reports called automatic emergency braking a “basic safety feature” that was available on cars costing far less, including the Toyota Corolla. “When we purchased our latest test car, we were assured automatic emergency braking would be enabled by the end of 2016,” said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center. “We’ve been waiting for this important safety feature, which is standard equipment on much cheaper cars.”
Tesla was quick to respond. After learning of the lowered rankings, it notified CR that automatic emergency braking would be rolled out via an over-the-air software update slated for Thursday, April 27.
Tesla notes in an email statement to CR, “Automatic Emergency Braking and other safety features are a top priority, and we plan to introduce them as soon as they’re ready”. Adding, “We believe it would be morally wrong and counterproductive to our goal of improving consumer safety to release features before they’re ready, and we believe our customers appreciate that.”
The slow pace of software updates for Autopilot 2.0 equipped cars has frustrated owners and led to a class action lawsuit claiming the company is putting owners at risk by selling its cars without vital safety features being operational. Tesla is vigorously contesting that suit and says it cannot roll out the needed software upgrades until they have been fully validated. The jab by Consumer Reports seems to have moved that process forward dramatically.