Under a California law taking effect in the new year, Tesla Inc. and other car manufacturers and dealers will be prohibited from deceptively naming or marketing their vehicles as fully self-driving. The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, would require car sellers to “clearly” describe the functions and limitations of any partially automated driving features. Those requirements also would apply to software updates for vehicles.
Any violation of the requirements would be punishable as an infraction, meaning possible fines, according to the text of the law. According to the office of State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, who wrote Senate Bill 1398, the amount of any monetary fine will be set later by the California Judicial Council. Tesla
has long faced regulatory and legal complaints related to the naming and marketing of its attempts at autonomous-driving options. Among them are lawsuits and federal scrutiny over its so-called Autopilot technology — an advanced driver assistance system, or ADAS — and its role in some fatal crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in August opened a formal investigation into Autopilot. See: Tesla tops list of crashes linked to driver-assist technology, feds say Tesla also has been sued by customers who say they were defrauded by software that it sells for $15,000 and calls Full Self-Driving, or FSD. The company has sought to dismiss that lawsuit, with its lawyers saying a “mere failure to realize a long-term, aspirational goal is not fraud,” the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has made claims for years about fully self-driving capabilities, including promising that Tesla cars would soon function as fully autonomous robotaxis at a 2019 event that took place just before a stock offering. Tesla is not among several companies with approved permits to test fully driverless vehicles in California. Over the summer, the California Depar …