The US Justice Department is intensifying its scrutiny of Tesla as it delves into the electric automaker’s Autopilot system and vehicle driving range, according to an announcement made by the company on Monday.
In a regulatory filing, Tesla revealed that it has been asked to provide documents and has received subpoenas from the Department of Justice (DOJ). These requests encompass documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features, as well as other queries linked to personal benefits, related parties, vehicle range, and personnel decisions.
This move by the DOJ follows an October 2022 report by Reuters, indicating that Tesla was facing a criminal investigation over allegations that its electric vehicles could operate autonomously. The investigation has gained momentum, with a growing focus on the performance and capabilities of Tesla’s vehicles.
In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors were also investigating Tesla’s vehicle performance claims and the company’s use of funds for a confidential project internally referred to as a residence for CEO Elon Musk.
Additionally, a Reuters report from July highlighted that Tesla cars often fall short of achieving their advertised range estimates, raising questions about the accuracy of the range projections provided by the vehicles themselves.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating Tesla’s Autopilot system for over two years, particularly after numerous incidents involving Tesla vehicles colliding with stationary emergency vehicles. The NHTSA is also scrutinizing whether the Autopilot system effectively ensures that drivers remain attentive while utilizing the driver assistance technology.
Amidst these ongoing investigations, Tesla indicated that its capital expenditure for 2023 will surpass the previously stated target of $7 billion to $9 billion. This elevated spending is attributed to the company’s efforts to expand production at its factories and introduce new vehicle models.
However, Tesla anticipates that its spending will return to the $7 billion to $9 billion range over the next two years, as indicated in a regulatory filing.