California's False Advertising Bill Targets Tesla's FSD And Autopilot

California's senate passed a bill codifying misleading advertising restrictions for autonomous car features. The law targets Tesla's usage of the terms "Full Self-Driving" (FSD) and "Autopilot." Governor Gavin Newsom must sign it.

The bill was sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Lena Gonzalez and passed on Tuesday. It aims to put additional pressure on the auto industry to advertise advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which the senator calls a safety issue.

The bill tries to tackle what the senate regards as Tesla's reckless approach toward naming its products and the California DMV's inaction.

Tesla's ADAS products have been dubbed "Autopilot" and "FSD" for years, but the DMV launched a "review" in May 2021. This bill simply aggravated the issue in July.

At the time, the DMV said it would be easy on Tesla, requesting that it "advertise to consumers and better educate Tesla drivers on the capabilities" of its services, including warnings about their limits.

Automaker has long warned drivers to always focus on the road in fine print on its website and in the user's manual. The internet is full of content that misuses the technology despite the warnings. It may be because "Full Self-Driving" was written in bold font above the tiny print.

“People in California think Full Self-Driving is entirely automated when it's not,” said Senator Gonzalez, adding that she and other senators are baffled by the DMV's delay.

The new bill's usefulness is questionable. As the DMV observed in July, it may already restrict Tesla from selling vehicles in the state and prevent fraudulent advertising of autonomous features.

Professor of law at the University of South Carolina Bryant Walker Smith told the LA Times that passing the bill would give compelling proof of legislative purpose.

According to Gonzalez, Tesla lobbied hard against the bill. The committee worked with other automakers, who she believes are "doing the right thing"

Despite the bill's passage, Tesla is hard to legalize. The company's petition to ban "Autopilot" and "FSD" in Germany was successful. Facing pressure from California, the NHTSA, industry executives, and others, the manufacturer may soon cave.