German court allows Tesla to continue referring to autonomous driving capabilities in its advertising, after industry body complaint
Tesla has been handed a legal victory in Germany, giving it the ability to continue touting the capabilities of its driver assistance system and autonomous driving in its advertising.
Reuters reported that a German court has ruled the world’s most valuable car maker can keep referring to the capabilities of its driver assistance system and autonomous driving in its advertising in Germany.
It comes after a German industry-sponsored body (Wettbewerbszentrale) tasked with policing anti-competitive practices, had filed a so-called non-admissibility complaint with Germany’s Federal Court of Justice.
However Reuters reported that a spokesperson for the court said the complaint had been rejected on 28 July.
This effectively allows Tesla to keep using the phrases “full potential for autonomous driving” and “Autopilot inclusive” in its German advertising materials.
According to Reuters, Wettbewerbszentrale had made its complaint against Tesla, in response to a ruling by the higher regional court Munich in October 2021, that confirmed an appeal by Tesla against a previous verdict by a lower district court that prohibited the use of the phrases.
Reuters pointed out that Tesla earlier this month was also accused by a California state transportation regulator of falsely advertising its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features as providing autonomous vehicle control.
Last month Tesla was ordered by a court in Munich to refund a customer over problems with its Autopilot system.
A customer in Germany had in December 2016 paid 112,000 euros ($114,000) for a Model X SUV, but she complained of ‘problems’ with the Autopilot function.
On top of the purchase cost, she paid an extra 5,500 euros ($5,580) for the Autopilot feature, and the SUV was delivered to her in March 2017.
But there were apparently repeated problems with Autopilot, and the court upheld the woman’s complaint that the car’s Autopilot was defective.
The Munich court ordered Tesla to reimburse the customer $101,000, after a technical report showed the vehicle did not reliably recognise obstacles and would at times activate the brakes unnecessarily.
This could cause a “massive hazard” in city traffic and lead to collisions, the court reportedly ruled.
Tesla lawyers had argued Autopilot was not designed for city traffic.
But the court said it was not feasible for drivers to manually switch the feature on and off in different settings as it would distract from driving.
Also in July Tesla had to contend with Andrej Karpathy, it’s Director of AI and the leader of the Autopilot Vision team, resigning from the car maker.
The German case comes as Tesla is already under close regulatory scrutiny over its Autopilot feature in the US.
In June the Federal vehicle safety regulator in the US (NHTSA) said it was upgrading its investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot driving assistance system – the step taken before the agency determines a recall.
CEO Elon Musk has aggressively hyped Tesla’s Autopilot and self-driving technology (FSD) for years now.
In July 2020, Elon Musk said that Tesla was “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology.
Level 5 is the holy grail of autonomous driving technology, as level 5 vehicles will not require human intervention, and need for a human drivers is eliminated.
Indeed, it is said that level 5 cars won’t even have steering wheels or acceleration/braking pedals.
These cars will be free from geofencing, and will be able to drive anywhere, and do anything that normal car with a human driver can do.
Tesla cars currently operate at a level-two, which requires the driver to remain alert and ready to steer, with hands on the wheel.
Musk said in March that Tesla is likely to launch a test version of its new “Full Self-Driving” software in Europe later this year, depending on regulatory approval.
“It’s quite difficult to do full self-driving in Europe,” he told workers at Berlin factory at the time, saying much work needs to be done to handle tricky driving situations in Europe where roads vary a lot by country.