Tesla Scrutinized by German Court Over How Autopilot Is Promoted

Tesla Inc.’s promotion of its driver-assistance system Autopilot is under scrutiny in Germany, where a court is scheduled to rule next week on whether the carmaker is misleading consumers.

The maker of the Model 3 sedan says on its German website that Tesla vehicles have full potential for autonomous driving. The company also has promoted its cars as having the ability to perform automatic city driving by the end of 2019.

Tesla is promising customers more than its Autopilot system actually delivers, according to the Center for Protection Against Unfair Competition, a German non-profit financed by companies and industry groups that sued the U.S. carmaker. A Munich court indicated during a hearing last month that it may side with the group.

“A legal framework for autonomous inner-city driving doesn’t even exist yet in Germany,” Andreas Ottofuelling, a lawyer for the group, said Thursday. “And other functions aren’t working yet as advertised.”

Representatives for Tesla didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has long offered bullish takes on the capabilities of his cars, even going so far as to start charging customers thousands of dollars for a “Full Self Driving” feature in 2016. Years later, the company still requires users of its Autopilot system to be fully attentive and ready to take over the task of driving at any time.

If the Munich court sides with the fair-competition group and Tesla doesn’t appeal, it will have to remove the claims from its website. That would add to the resistance Musk has run into in Europe, where regulations force the company to limit how Autopilot features can be used.

The CEO tweeted in August that Tesla was working with regulators in Europe to change the rules and said the following month that customers were unhappy with the policies.

The case is: LG Muenchen, 33 O 14041/19.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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