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Democrats Ask FTC To Probe Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” Promises

 |  August 18, 2021

Senators Ed Markey (Democrat – Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (Democrat – Connecticut) have asked new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan to investigate Tesla’s marketing of its advanced driver assistance system, Autopilot. The Senators are particularly concerned with how Tesla has been charging customers thousands of dollars for what it refers to as “Full Self-Driving capability,” despite the fact that buying that package does not make the company’s cars fully autonomous. 

“Tesla’s marketing has repeatedly overstated the capabilities of its vehicles, and these statements increasingly pose a threat to motorists and other users of the road,” the senators wrote in a letter published Wednesday, August 18. “Accordingly, we urge you to open an investigation into potentially deceptive and unfair practices in Tesla’s advertising and marketing of its driving automation systems and take appropriate enforcement action to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road.” 

The letter comes as the Biden administration has been steadily increasing the scrutiny of tech companies. Much of that focus to date has been through the lens of antitrust policy — especially at the FTC under Khan — but Tesla has drawn some heat as well. Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an investigation into Autopilot’s tendency to crash into parked emergency vehicles.