German Court Bans Tesla From Claiming Car “Autopilot” in Ads

A Munich judge barred Tesla Germany from repeating “misleading” claims regarding its automated driving technology in advertisements.

In a ruling on Tuesday, a Munich court banned Tesla Germany from repeating “misleading statements” related to the capabilities of its autonomous driving technology and driver assistance systems.

Per the ruling, Tesla will no longer be able to include the phrases “full potential for autonomous driving” or “Autopilot inclusive” in its German advertising materials.

The case was brought by the Wettbewerbszentrale, a German industry-sponsored body that polices anticompetitive practices. The body argued that Tesla’s claims amounted to misleading business practices, and that the average viewer of its advertisements might be led to believe that Tesla’s vehicles are capable of fully autonomous driving and that such technology is considered road-legal in Germany.

Concerns regarding Tesla’s automated driving systems have been voiced elsewhere, with the US National Transport Safety Board asserting that it lacks safeguards.

These issues feed into wider anxiety that automated assistance systems designed to take over partial control from a human driver for extended periods of time may have a negative effect on car owners, tempting them into neglecting their obligation to remain in control of their vehicle at all times.

Tesla has maintained that it has informed its customers that its automated driver assistance systems do not amount to a completely autonomous driving system, and has already rebranded “Autopilot” to “Autodrive” in its German materials.

Dr Andreas Ottofülling, attorney for the Wettbewerbszentrale, hailed the decision as an initial victory.

Since autopiloted and autonomous driving at level 5 is currently neither legally permissible nor technically possible for the vehicle in question, Tesla must also adhere to the rules of the game and must not make false advertising promises,” he said.

Tesla Germany can appeal the court’s decision.

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