Safety groups want FTC, state probes of Tesla’s Autopilot system–and its marketing efforts

“We feel Tesla violates the laws on deceptive practices, both at the federal and state level,” said Jason Levine, the head of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Auto Safety, one of two groups that have called for an investigation of both the Autopilot system and Tesla’s promotion of the technology.

Two consumer safety groups are calling for federal and state investigations of Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology in the wake of several fatal crashes linked to the system earlier this year.

The investigations could pose a major threat to the California electric vehicle maker, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised a fully autonomous version of his technology, called Autopilot, will be released this year. He said during a conference call this week that the company expects to generate significant revenue from fleets of “robotaxis” it intends to roll out in 2020 using Autopilot.

“We feel Tesla violates the laws on deceptive practices, both at the federal and state level,” said Jason Levine, the head of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Auto Safety, one of two groups that have called for an investigation of both the Autopilot system and Tesla’s promotion of the technology.

The CAS, along with California’s non-profit Consumer Watchdog, pointed to a number of crashes, injuries and deaths that have occurred over the last several years involving Tesla vehicles operating in Autopilot mode. That includes one in May in which a Model S sedan slammed into a parked police car. Two months earlier, a driver was killed when his Model 3 sedan slammed into a semi-trailer in Del Ray Beach, Florida, shearing off its roof.

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