Tesla loses German lawsuit for overpromising Autopilot functions

The court ruled Tesla pushed unfulfilled promises and reiterated the features spoken of aren't even legal in Germany.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Tesla Model 3 Autopilot
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Tesla Model 3 Autopilot

Too many unfulfilled promises in an area without framework, according to a German court.


Tesla's Autopilot, a partially automated system that assists drivers and is not a fully autonomous system, isn't a bad thing. In fact, when used correctly, it's quite helpful. However, a German court declared Tesla oversold the system's functions in a blow to the automaker.

According to Competition Center, a German regulatory institution focused on fair competition, a Munich court declared Tesla's statement promised Level 5 fully autonomous driving by the end of 2019. In reality, Autopilot remains a Level 2 system on the SAE scale of autonomy. "The consumer therefore does not receive a vehicle with the 'automatic driving in town' or 'automatic driving on highways' function, for example," the legal assessment read in part in a German to English translation.

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The court also said it's impossible for Tesla to make such promises since fully autonomous driving systems are not legal in Germany and there is no official framework for self-driving cars . Attorney Dr. Andreas Ottofulling added, "Since autonomous driving at Level 5 is currently neither legally permissible nor technically possible for the vehicle in question, Tesla must also adhere to the rules of the game and must not make false advertising promises."

It sounds like Tesla flew just a touch too close to the sun when it comes to German regulators, which specifically called out Tesla's promises for "automatic driving" on city streets by the end of 2019. It's unclear how Tesla plans to tweak ads for Autopilot or if the automaker plans to appeal the decision. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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