California attorney general investigating Tesla on Autopilot safety, false advertising

The Tesla company logo shines off the rear deck of an unsold 2020 Model X at a Tesla dealership
The California attorney general’s office is reportedly asking customers and former Tesla employees for more information regarding the safety of the company’s driver assistance program Autopilot, according to a CNBC report.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Tesla is under investigation by the California attorney general concerning the safety of its Autopilot feature and complaints of false advertising, according to a CNBC report.

CNBC obtained materials from Greg Wester, a 2018 Tesla Model 3 owner, who filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in August 2022 over the safety of his vehicle. In the complaint, he alleged the car’s driver assistant Autopilot feature would brake suddenly, a phenomenon known as “phantom braking.” He also said he felt misled by Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving program — a premium feature for which he paid thousands of dollars, the CNBC report said.

California‘s attorney general’s office followed up with Wester during the second quarter of 2023 to interview him regarding the complaint filed with the FTC. Additionally, the office’s consumer protection division this month sought information from a former unnamed Tesla employee who worked on the FSD program for an “unspecified but active investigation” into Tesla, according to the CNBC report.


In a class-action lawsuit, customers say they were duped by Tesla’s $15,000 Full Self-Driving feature. Company lawyers say failure isn’t fraud.

Dec. 8, 2022

The attorney general’s office declined to comment. The FTC and Tesla could not immediately be reached for comment.

To date, no Tesla is capable of fully driving itself. Autopilot, a feature meant for highway driving, is an advanced driver assist program that enables a vehicle to steer, change lanes, accelerate and brake. Full Self Driving is billed as a more advanced technology that supposedly can stop for stoplights and stop signs and make turns at intersections.

Regulatory agencies have been investigating Tesla’s automated technology for years. Several fatalities have been linked to Autopilot software. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has several investigations open, including a probe into why Teslas seem to disproportionately crash into emergency vehicles parked on the roadside. The agency has set no public timeline for a determination.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles says it’s looking into the matter as well.