Luo Zhen, a 33-year-old Tesla owner, has filed a complaint against Tesla Motors following a recent crash on a Beijing highway. The Tesla Model S driver had the autopilot engaged when the accident occurred. The vehicle collided with an illegally parked car on the left side of the highway. Both cars were damaged, but fortunately no one was injured in the accident.
Luo claims that the car was falsely advertised to him when he bought it. The salesperson implied that the vehicle was self-driving and that the autopilot system could fill in for the driver’s responsibilities. On Weibo, he says that he paid an extra 27,500 yuan for the feature.
“The impression they give everyone is that this is self-driving, this isn’t assisted driving,” he told Reuters.
Tesla’s problem seems to a translation one, as the Wall Street Journal notes, in China, it promotes its autopilot feature as zidong jiashi (自动驾驶), which directly translates to meaning that the car can drive itself.
Zhong Shi, an independent automotive analyst in Beijing, highlighted the flaws in how Tesla has chosen to advertise the car.
“China’s way of referring to these technologies is a big problem. Though a similar risk exists for the term Autopilot in the west, Chinese consumers are less likely to read the instruction manual,” he said.
With Tesla coming under fire for misleading consumers, the company has rebutted accusations of false advertising.
“As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, Autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time,” Tesla explained, adding that the driver did not have his hands on the wheel at the time of the crash, despite a warning from the instrument panel when he turned the autopilot feature on.
Controversy has surrounding the innovative autopilot system, with one fatal accident occurring in Florida this year and multiple minor incidents happening since the system’s release to the public.
Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla justifies these mishaps as glitches in the early stages of the technology and says that drivers must remain aware that this is not a tried-and-true feature.
However, the tech genius assured worried consumers that the eventual introduction of autopilot in the majority of cars will significantly reduce fatal accidents on the road, as up to 90% of accidents are due to human error, reports Financial Times.
Watch a video on the Tesla accident by Reuters:
By Robin Winship
[Images via Weibo]