Mon, Oct 17, 2016 - Page 14 News List

Stop advertising autopilot system, KBA informs Tesla

‘MISUNDERSTANDINGS’:Germany has been probing the system in vehicles made by Tesla, after one of the firm’s electric cars crashed into a tour bus in Germany

AFP, BERLIN

Germany wants Tesla to stop advertising the “autopilot” function on its cars because it leads to false customer expectations, as the system comes under scrutiny following two fatal crashes.

The German Federal Motor Vehicle Office (KBA) has written to the company, telling it: “In order to prevent misunderstandings and false expectations from clients, we are asking that the misleading term ‘Autopilot’ no longer be used in advertisements for the system.”

The KBA letter cited in Bild am Sonntag was confirmed to reporters by the German Federal Ministry of Transport.

Germany has been conducting a probe into the autopilot system in vehicles made by Tesla, which has been available with its Model S series since October last year.

Questions have been raised over the system after two fatal crashes, one in northern China in January and another in the US state of Florida in May.

In September, a Tesla electric car crashed into a tourist bus on a motorway in northern Germany, lightly injuring the driver who said he had activated the autopilot system.

At the time, Tesla said the driver had confirmed the autopilot was “functioning properly and... was unrelated to the accident.”

Last week, a Tesla spokesman told reporters: “We have always been clear with our customers that Autopilot is a driver’s assistance system that requires the driver to pay attention at all times.”

The system allows the vehicle to automatically change lanes, manage speed and brake to avoid a collision. The system can be overridden by the driver.

Consumer activists have called on the company, founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, to disable the autopilot feature until it is updated to detect whether the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel during operation — as the company says should be the case.

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