Tesla Could Lose License To Manufacture Over CA DMV Accusations

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Tesla is engaging in deceptive practices for its driver assistance systems. In a filing with the state’s administrative agency, it calls out its Autopilot and Full Self Driving systems. If proven to be true, the EV maker could lose its licenses to both manufacture and sell vehicles in California in a worst-case scenario.  

What are the DMV’s accusations against Tesla?

A white Tesla Model 3 in front of a black and white building.
Tesla Model 3 | Getty Images

The California Office of Administrative Hearings received the DMV’s filing on July 28. Attorneys for the DMV say in the filing “Instead of simply identifying product or brand names, these ‘Autopilot’ and Full Self-Driving Capability’ labels and descriptions represent that vehicles equipped with the ADAS features will operate as an autonomous vehicle, but vehicles equipped with those ADAS features could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles.”

So this means that if found to be correct, the DMV “will ask that Tesla will be required to advertise to consumers and better educate 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.” This is from a statement from Anita Gore, the DMV’s Deputy Director of the Office of Public Affairs.

Why is the DMV also looking at a Tesla safety investigation?

The 2023 Tesla Model S will probably have a similar price to the outgoing model, if not a little higher.
Tesla Model S | Tesla

But there is more. The DMV is also doing a safety investigation of the systems. It’s looking at the design and technology capabilities “to determine if they can be used on public roads without a special permit.” Should the company not respond in 15 days, a default decision is possible.

Tesla’s whole Full Self Driving arrangement has raised a lot of questions. While Autopilot is available in all of its vehicles, there is also the premium Full Self Driving (FSD). Buyers can choose to either purchase the system outright for $12,000 or by subscription at $199 a month. There is also an Enhanced Autopilot version that includes some of the premium features of the FSD.

Then there is the FSD Beta, which is a beta version with certain in-progress Autopilot additions. Only those who already have FSD, and pass a high driver-safety score, are allowed to have the FSD Beta system. Its software monitoring determines the score. Tesla says over 100,000 drivers have this added system. 

Why is the NHTSA investigating the FSD Beta?

A tesla cybertruck seen in California
Tesla Cybertruck | Getty

With 17 deaths related to Tesla’s Autopilot system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is already investigating 37 FSD Beta crashes. Of all the self-driving systems involved in accidents, 270, or 70 percent of all of them, involve Tesla EVs. Then there are the emergency responder vehicle crashes. 

Numerous Tesla EVs have crashed into parked emergency responder vehicles. That spurred the NHTSA to open an investigation into these accidents. There is concern that the Tesla FSD is flawed. That means a recall of FSD. As you can see, there are plenty of eyes on Tesla’s driver assistance programs. 

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