Concerns raised by lawmakers about Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) driver assistance system known as Autopilot are “on our radar,” according to the FTC’s head. In an interview on Tuesday, FTC Chair Lina Khan followed the agency procedure by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of an inquiry.
“It’s absolutely true that you know, this is an issue on which many members of Congress have focused and written to us about, so it’s certainly something that’s on our radar,” Khan said.
Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla in August, claiming that the carmaker misled consumers and put the public at risk by selling its driving automation systems as fully self-driving.
An inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission might lead to a lawsuit demanding that the corporation adjust how it describes Autopilot’s capabilities. Tesla’s reputation could be harmed as a result of this.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) started an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot and crashes involving parked emergency vehicles in August, prompting the August letter.
Since 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has started special investigations into 35 crashes involving Tesla vehicles in which advanced driver assistance systems like Autopilot were suspected of being used. To date, 14 people have died as a result of these instances, including three people who died in a car accident in California last month.
Tesla says Autopilot assists drivers by enabling vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake automatically but the features “require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous”
In a 2018 letter, NHTSA said Tesla had made “misleading statements” about the Tesla Model 3 five-star safety rating and associated data. The agency referred the issue to the FTC to investigate whether Tesla’s claims constituted “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”
In 2018, two consumer advocacy groups in the United States petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to look into Tesla’s name Autopilot. The Federal Trade Commission has previously declined to comment on the NHTSA’s referral and has taken no public action in response.