Tesla Hit By Class Action Over ‘Dangerously Defective’ Autopilot Software


Tesla Autopilot

Tesla Inc. was sued by vehicle owners over claims its Autopilot AP2.0 feature is “essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous” when engaged.

The suit details “Tesla’s deceptive rollout” of both the Standard Safety Features and its new Enhanced Autopilot, which were touted as safe and “stress-free” for the driver. Consumers report Tesla vehicles equipped with the new Autopilot AP2.0 “behaving as if a drunk driver is at the wheel,” according to the lawsuit, and the suit states that the automaker knew that its software was incapable of upholding its promises to purchasers.

Over-the-air updates were either not delivered, they claim, or degraded performance of their cars’ autopilots compared to the original version. It is said that 50,000 Model S cars are affected by the disputed updates.

The lawsuit, filed Apr. 19, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, states, “Unwittingly, buyers of affected vehicles have become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous if engaged.”

According to the complaint, Tesla sold about 47,000 affected Model S and Model X vehicles in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, and damages for each model would include the value of the standard safety features that do not exist in all the affected cars, plus the $5,000 premium cost of the nonfunctional Enhanced Autopilot feature that many customers also purchased

The lawsuit states that Tesla missed deadline after deadline that it gave purchasers. Regarding its Standard Safety Features which include automatic emergency braking, front collision warning, side collision warning and auto high beams, Tesla told consumers these features would be available by December 2016 and “roll out through over-the-air software updates,” but to date, only a dangerously defective Traffic Aware Cruise Control has actually come to fruition, according to the suit. The remaining features simply do not exist.

The lawsuit details accounts of three named plaintiffs who purchased affected Tesla vehicles for prices ranging from about $81,000 to $113,000. In each instance, when purchasers received their vehicles from Tesla, the Standard Safety Features and Enhanced Autopilot were non-functioning, despite Tesla’s website and marketing materials indicating that both features would be available in December 2016.

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