Tesla Autopilot

The Issue

Tesla has a long, rich history of deceptive advertising. Their very use of the term “autopilot” for semi-autonomous vehicles leads consumers to believe that Teslas have more self-driving capabilities than they actually do. When these same customers then relax at the wheel, accidents occur. To date, 3 Americans have been killed in Teslas and more injured, in part due to over-reliance on the “autopilot” feature. These accidents are why the Center is holding Tesla accountable to fair advertising practices. Consumers need to know what they are buying, and, despite deceptive claims to the contrary, a Tesla is not a self-driving car.

Latest News

Scrutiny Of Tesla Grows After Apparently Driverless Fatal Crash Barron’s. April 22, 2021.

Deadly Tesla crash shows that autopilot isn’t autopilot yet. USA Today. April 20, 2021. 

It’s time to notice Tesla’s Autopilot death toll. Yahoo Finance. April 19, 2020.

Two die in driverless Tesla incident. Where are the regulators? Los Angeles Times. April 19, 2021.

Fatal Tesla Crash in Texas Believed to Be Driverless. The Wall Street Journal. April 18, 2021. 

As Tesla gears up to release ‘Full Self-Driving’ to thousands more drivers, videos continue to show its flaws. Business Insider. March 27, 2021.

Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Faces Fresh Scrutiny. The New York Times. March 23, 2021. 

US sends investigators to probe another Michigan Tesla crash. The Detroit News. March 18, 2021. 

Elon Musk appears immune to criticism as Tesla ignores the media. CNN Business. December 11, 2020.

Tesla Autopilot

Our Statements

“Last year we asked the FTC to stop Tesla’s continued deceptive use of the term ‘Autopilot’ before there were more deaths and injuries because of an overreliance on non-autonomous technology,” said Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Jason Levine. “One year later, there has been more unnecessary, preventable tragedy, and more intentional deception by Tesla, including claims of ‘full self-driving capability.’ If the FTC, and the states, do not stop these unlawful representations, the consequences will squarely fall on their shoulders.”

Read our most recent press statement on Tesla’s deceptive advertising.

“The burden now falls on the FTC to investigate Tesla’s unfair and deceptive practices so that consumers have accurate information, understand the limitations of Autopilot, and operate their vehicle safely and without endangering themselves or other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians on the road. The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog urge the FTC to conduct a timely investigation in order to prevent further tragedies.” 

Read our original press statement on Tesla’s deceptive advertising.


Read our renewed call, in partnership with Consumer Watchdog, for the FTC and State Attorney Generals to investigate Tesla’s deceptive advertising of “autopilot”–July 25, 2019.

Read our joint letter with Consumer Watchdog to the California Department of Motor Vehicles requesting an investigation into Tesla’s deceptive advertising of “autopilot”–May 30, 2018.

Read our joint letter with Consumer Watchdog to the FTC requesting an investigation into Tesla’s deceptive advertising of “autopilot”–May 23, 2018.


All News

We’re all guinea pigs for Tesla’s latest self-driving tech. AxiosOctober 23, 2020.

Experts Call Elon Musk’s Level 5 Autonomy Claims Absurd. CarBuzz. July 20, 2020.

Tesla ‘very close’ to Level 5 autonomous technology, Musk says. Automotive News. July 9, 2020.

Tesla on Autopilot slams into police cruiser, driver claims he was checking on his dog, Good Morning America. December 9, 2019.

Consumer groups, ‘Sully’ Sullenberger raise concerns about Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features, Fox News. July 26, 2019.

Safety groups want FTC, state probes of Tesla’s Autopilot system–and its marketing efforts. CNBC. July 26, 2019. 

Consumer groups call for FTC investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot. Automotive News. July 25, 2019.

Tesla Driver Sleeps Behind Wheel on California Highway. NBC News. June 14, 2019.

Consumer groups call for investigation into Tesla’s ‘autopilot.’ KABC TV-7. May 31, 2018. 

Tesla hit parked police car ‘while using autopilot.’ BBC News. May 30, 2018. 

Tesla autopilot most often used for highway-speed driving, MIT researchers say. USA Today. May 30, 2018. 

Tesla Model S crashed into a parked police car while autopilot was activated. Markets Insider. May 29, 2018. 

Tesla is facing mounting pressure to drop the name ‘autopilot.’ NBC Nightly News. May 27, 2018. 

Consumer groups say Tesla’s ‘autopilot’ is deceptive marketing. CleanTechnica. May 25, 2018. 

Consumer group says Tesla autopilot is ‘deceptive,’ calls for investigation. Jalopnik. May 23, 2018. 

Consumer groups ask U.S. agency to probe Tesla ‘autopilot’ ads. Reuters. May 23, 2018.

A Tesla car crash near Salt Lake City, Utah is under investigation. ABC News. May 13, 2018. 

Tesla self-driving system faulted by agency in crash. The New York Times. September 12, 2017. 

Driver Errors, Over-reliance on Automation, Lack of Safeguards, Led to Fatal Tesla Crash. National Transportation Safety Board. September 12, 2017.