Report: DOJ Investigating Tesla’s Self-Driving Claims

According to a Reuters report, US Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigators in Washington DC and San Francisco are looking into whether Tesla criminally misled consumers, investors, and regulators. This concerns the abilities of its driver assistance technology, called "Autopilot,"

Report: DOJ Investigating Tesla’s Self-Driving Claims
Image credit: Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash

Facts

  • According to a Reuters report, US Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigators in Washington DC and San Francisco are looking into whether Tesla criminally misled consumers, investors, and regulators. This concerns the abilities of its driver assistance technology, called "Autopilot," which has been involved in more than a dozen crashes — including some fatalities.
  • The DOJ probe, which reportedly began in 2021, comes at the same time as ongoing investigations of Tesla by both the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles into various crashes and allegations of false advertising by the company.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has often touted the cars’ self-driving capabilities, as recently as last week told listeners to a webcast that drivers will “almost never” need to touch the controls of a Tesla on the road, and that the self-driving systems might even be safer than human drivers.
  • In contrast, the company’s website explicitly warns drivers they must keep their hands on the wheel, and the technology is meant to assist with steering, braking, changing lanes, and adjusting speed.
  • Tesla’s potential legal problems over its self-driving feature have surfaced as Musk is on the cusp of completing his $44B purchase of Twitter, which must be done by Friday, or court proceedings over his attempt to back out of the deal will commence.

Sources: Reuters, Cnet, and Daily Mail.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Yahoo! Finance. With uncertainty already swooning around Tesla while shareholders wait to see how much stock Musk will sell to complete his Twitter purchase, an undisclosed criminal investigation is going to cause more doubts. Criminal charges against "Autopilot" will be bad enough for the company, but civil lawsuits could follow. Musk’s positive public pronouncements might turn out to be worthless.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Daily Wire. Tesla is in fine shape and it’s only going to keep getting better, with the potential to be one of the most valuable companies in the world. Demand is limitless, and governments are creating incentives that will help the company sell every car it manufactures. If Tesla can have so much success while the global economy is lagging, there are only bright skies ahead.