Law firm Hagens Berman has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging Tesla misled consumers about the self-driving capabilities of Autopilot 2.
The class-action suit, filed in California's Northern district court on Wednesday, alleges the new Autopilot is "essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous."
"What consumers received were cars without standard safety enhancements featured by cars costing less than half the price of a new Tesla, and a purported 'Enhanced Autopilot' that operates in an erratic and dangerous manner," Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, wrote in a press release.
Tesla called the lawsuit a "disingenuous attempt to secure attorney’s fees posing as a legitimate legal action" in a statement to Business Insider:
"Many of the features this suit claims are 'unavailable' are in fact available, with more updates coming every month. We have always been transparent about the fact that Enhanced Autopilot software is a product that would roll out incrementally over time, and that features would continue to be introduced as validation is completed, subject to regulatory approval," the statement reads in part.
Tesla began selling cars with the hardware to support Autopilot 2, or Enhanced Autopilot, last October. Tesla has said Enhanced Autopilot will have the same capabilities as its first-generation system with some new features, such as the ability to change lanes without driver input and merge on and off highways.
As of early April, Tesla Enhanced Autopilot owners have access to a suite of features including lane departure warning, autosteer, automatic lane changes, summon, autopark, forward collision warning, and traffic aware cruise control.
Tesla's order page says its Enhanced Autopilot software has "begun rolling out and features will continue to be introduced as validation is completed, subject to regulatory approval." Enhanced Autopilot costs $5,000 at the time of purchase.
The class-action suit alleges Tesla owners did not receive Enhanced Autopilot's standard safety features on the timeline that was originally promised. It also claims the Traffic Aware Cruise Control feature that did roll out is "dangerously defective."
Hagens Berman began pitching the class action lawsuit to Tesla owners in late March. The law firm is known for leading a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen for using emissions-cheating software.
Read Tesla's full statement:
"This lawsuit is a disingenuous attempt to secure attorney’s fees posing as a legitimate legal action, which is evidenced by the fact that the suit misrepresents many facts. Many of the features this suit claims are “unavailable” are in fact available, with more updates coming every month. We have always been transparent about the fact that Enhanced Autopilot software is a product that would roll out incrementally over time, and that features would continue to be introduced as validation is completed, subject to regulatory approval. Furthermore, we have never claimed our vehicles already have functional “full self-driving capability”, as our website has stated in plain English for all potential customers that “it is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.” The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety."
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