DOJ Asked Tesla for Documents on Driver Assistance Features

Photos of the Tesla interior

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested documents from Tesla related to the company’s Autopilot and so-called “Full Self-Driving” features. Tesla financial application submitted on Tuesday. As part of Tesla’s latest quarterly report to investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company included updates on the company’s current litigation and investigations (of which are multiple).

Previously, October 2022 news said the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into Tesla over its driver assistance technologies. This week’s filing confirms that the Justice Department has requested additional information and documentation from the company regarding the technology.

“To our knowledge, no government agency has concluded that any wrongdoing has occurred as part of its ongoing investigation,” Tesla wrote in its SEC filing. However, the company’s positive spin seemingly ended there. “We cannot predict the outcome or impact of any pending matters. Should the government decide to take enforcement action, there is the potential for a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, prospects, cash flows and financial condition,” the automaker noted.

According to introductory message from Reuters last October, the DOJ investigation is primarily concerned with whether Tesla misled the public and its investors about the reliability and capability of its autonomous technology. And it is not difficult to see how people could have been misled.

The company has she called its most advanced driver assistance feature “Full Self Driving”, although it is not actually fully autonomous. Vehicles with enabled technology still require the driver to be alert and behind the wheel to control and monitor the car, according to company website. However, more than 40% According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Tesla Autopilot users say they are comfortable treating their vehicles as driverless.

A recently passed law in California already aims to deal with Tesla’s confusing marketing. SB 1398 prohibited by car manufacturers from advertising its products as fully autonomous when they are not and introducing penalties for breaking the rule. This legislation went into effect on January 1, 2023. However, as a state law, it is unclear how it will affect Tesla based in Austin, Texas.

In addition to the ad being potentially misleading, Tesla’s Autopilot and driver assistance features are associated with numerous it crashessome of which she was deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is is currently investigating multiple collisions including Tesla vehicles with driver assistance enabled.

Tesla also referenced the NHTSA investigation in its Tuesday filing, though it did not share any specifics. “We routinely cooperate with such regulatory and governmental requests, including subpoenas, formal and informal requests, and other investigations and inquiries,” the company wrote.

But Tesla disbanded its PR department in 2020, so the company does not normally respond to questions from journalists. Gizmodo reached out to Tesla via email with questions about the DOJ investigation and did not receive a response.


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