A Tesla Model 3 waits for attendee interaction at the 2019 Fleet Forward Conference.

A Tesla Model 3 waits for attendee interaction at the 2019 Fleet Forward Conference.

Photo by Chris Brown.

A court in Munich, Germany this week cited various claims Tesla makes stemming from its Autopilot functionality. The case was brought by Germany’s Competition Center, Germany’s largest self-regulatory institution. 

The case took issue with the claims on the Tesla website’s homepage, such as: 

  • "Autopilot … Allows automatic steering, acceleration and braking,”
  • “Full potential for autonomous driving”
  • “Navigating with autopilot functionality: automatic driving on motorways from entry to exit, including motorway junctions and overtaking slower vehicles.”
  • “Automatic parking: parallel and right-angled parking.”
  • "Call in: Your parked car will find you in parking lots and come to you.”
  • “By the end of the year: traffic light, stop signs recognition with, automatic stop, start automatic driving in urban areas."
  • “You can also purchase the function package for autonomous driving after delivery. However, the price is likely to increase over time due to the continuous expansion with new features.”

The court confirmed that the statements give the impression that the vehicles could and should have been able to drive autonomously by the end of 2019, the Competition Center said in a press release.

The court took particular issue with the announced timeline for the release of autonomous features: This impression was reinforced by the statement "By the end of the year: ... automatic driving in urban areas.”

“In fact, these announcements were not fulfilled because some of the functions mentioned are still not legally permitted in Germany,” the press release said. 

The court’s opinion recognizes, “There are currently vehicles on the market that fulfill Level 2 functions. These automobiles are still a long way from autonomous driving.”

"Since autopiloted and autonomous driving at level 5 is currently neither legally permissible nor technically possible for the vehicle in question, Tesla must also adhere to the rules of the game and must not make false advertising promises," said attorney Dr. Andreas Ottofülling.

The Competition Center statement did not mention any enforcement action, how Tesla will adjust its messaging, or whether Tesla plans to appeal the decision.