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Democratic Senators Call to Investigate Tesla Over ‘Misleading’ Advertising

Since 2016, NHTSA has initiated at least 30 investigations into Tesla vehicle crashes

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Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Tesla‘s advertising of its Autopilot driving assistance system as “misleading” and “dangerous.”

In a letter to the committee, the two senators called the company’s advertising of Autopilot, as well as Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology, “misleading” while accusing Tesla of “repeatedly exaggerating” the capabilities of its vehicles.

The senators added that the company’s statements endanger “drivers and other road users” so they are requesting the initiation of an investigation “into the potentially misleading and unfair practices” of the company’s advertising regarding its driver assistance systems.

The request comes two days after it was made public that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into at least 11 cases in which Tesla cars crashed into emergency vehicles that were providing assistance in other crashes.

NHTSA indicated that in those 11 cases, the Autopilot system, or another driving assistance system called Traffic Aware Cruise Control, was in operation when the Tesla cars crashed into the vehicles.

Most of the incidents occurred at night and when assist vehicles with emergency lighting were on the scene to illuminate the accident scenes.

Since 2016, NHTSA has initiated at least 30 investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles.

Blumenthal and Markey stressed in their letter to the FTC that both Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, have “bragged” about Tesla’s systems, but that both fail to provide “additional information about the true capabilities” of the company’s vehicles.

The senators also said that since at least 2018, organizations such as the Center for Auto Safety have asked the FTC to open investigations into Tesla’s advertising practices regarding Autopilot and that same year, NHTSA formally asked Musk to stop making statements about the cars’ safety.

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