California regulator reviews Tesla's self-driving claims

FILE PHOTO: The Tesla logo is seen on a car in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

BERKELEY, Calif. (Reuters) - A California regulator said on Monday it is reviewing whether Tesla Inc violated regulations by falsely promoting its advanced driver-assistance systems as being "full self-driving."

Tesla's driver assistant features, which it describes as "Autopilot" or "full self-driving" are under growing scrutiny following a series of accidents and online videos of Tesla cars driving with no one in the driver's seat.

Tesla charges $10,000 for its semi-automated features such as lane changing and parking assistance under its full self-driving (FSD) software.

Tesla says on its website that the features do not make the vehicle autonomous, but the term FSD is widely used by CEO Elon Musk who has over 50 million Twitter followers.

Consumer Groups and experts have criticised Tesla for misleading consumers into believing that the car can drive by itself without providing an adequate driver monitoring system to prevent the system's misuse, contributing to fatal accidents.

A Tesla car driver killed in a recent accident in California had praised the automaker's "full self-driving" features and posted videos of himself apparently driving with his hands off the wheel.

A 25-year-old man was also arrested earlier this month after driving a Tesla while in the backseat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said in a statement it has "the matter under review," referring to the regulation that "prohibits a company from advertising vehicles for sale or lease as autonomous..."

A violation of the rule could lead to the suspension or the revocation of a manufacturer's occupational license, among other administrative actions, it added, without elaborating.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

"We call on Tesla to stop using hyperbolic terminology to sell its already impressive technology," Jason Levine, executive Director at Center For Auto Safety, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; editing by Richard Pullin)

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