The lawsuit filed by the German competition authority against Tesla for allegedly misleading advertising statements regarding the ‘Autopilot’ was successful. This means Tesla may have to act soon.
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However, the judgement is not yet in force, so the impact on Tesla remains unclear. It depends on the German Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition (Wettbewerbszentrale) to leave a 100,000-euro deposit in case Tesla insists on revision.
The case has been on-going, and the ruling by the Munich court now concluded that Tesla’s online promotion of the Autopilot as enabling autonomous driving indeed evoked a false sense of a truly self-driving car. The following promise of “automatic driving on city streets” to come later this year, in particular, had the judge ruling in favour of the consumer protection agency. More so as the level of autonomy advertised by the Californians is illegal in Germany.
However, taking Tesla’s perspective, Elon Musk is indeed convinced, to reach level 5 of autonomous driving this year. He said as much in a video recorded for a Chinese AI conference.
“I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level five autonomy complete this year,” he said. “I think there are no fundamental challenges remaining for level five autonomy.”
Now it remains to be seen how Tesla deals with the hurdle in the primary European car market. A realignment of their marketing strategy and communications for the Model 3 in Germany could be in order.
Update 30 November 2020: Despite the July ruling, Tesla continues to advertise with the term ‘autopilot’. The car manufacturer has appealed against the ruling. However, it will probably take some time before a verdict is reached: According to German publication Welt am Sonntag, the appeal will not be heard until the beginning of October 2021.
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