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Tesla Owners Sue Automaker for Allegedly Faulty Enhanced Autopilot Feature
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Summary: Law firm, Hagens Berman, has filed a class action lawsuit against Tesla on behalf of users who purchased vehicles with Enhanced Autopilot. 

After paying thousands for an “Enhanced Autopilot” feature, Tesla owners are fighting back because they say it was shoddy. Today, the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a class action lawsuit in Northern California, claiming that the self-driving function was botched and that the vehicles also lacked Standard Safety Features.


The class-action plaintiffs said that Tesla knowingly sold nonfunctional Enhanced Autopilot AP2.0 software in nearly 50,000 cars. According to their attorneys from Hagens Berman, Tesla also sold vehicles with inoperative Standard Safety Features during the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.

Steve Berman of Hagens Berman is representing the plaintiffs, and he stated that the Teslas sold are more dangerous than competitor’s vehicles sold at a cheaper price point.

“Tesla has endangered the lives of tens of thousands of Tesla owners across the country, and induced them to pay many thousands of dollars for a product that Tesla has not effectively designed,” Berman said. “Tesla sold these vehicles as the safest sedan on the road. What consumers received were cars without standard safety enhancements featured by cars costing less than half the price of a new Tesla, and a purported ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ that operates in an erratic and dangerous manner.”

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Tesla buyers paid $5,000 for the “Enhanced Autopilot” feature, and Hagens Berman said that the feature was “essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous.” An anecdotal example Hagens Berman provided came from a client who said that the car would suddenly stop after driving 50 mph. According to the lawsuit, autopilot was supposed to act similar to a self-driving vehicle, but the lawsuit stated that it was more similar to a “drunk driver” behind the wheel.

“Unwittingly, buyers of affected vehicles have become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous if engaged,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit is seeking the value of the missing standard safety features as well as the $5,000 cost of “Enhanced Autopilot” for the 47,000 Model S and Model X vehicles sold in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017. The class affects buyers as well as leasees of those affected cars, which range in price from $81,000 to $113,000.

“[Tesla] knowingly deceived tens of thousands who put their faith in these cars and in Tesla,” Berman said.

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has made claims that his cars are capable of being fully driverless. By the end of this year, the car maker plans to have a vehicle drive from Los Angeles to New York to prove its driverless capabilities. However, until those fully driverless cars pass government regulations, car buyers can use Tesla’s current Enhanced Autopilot, which can change lanes and merge on highways without driver input.

A spokesperson from Tesla told JD Journal that this lawsuit “misrepresents facts” and was an attempt by the law firm to secure fees.

“This lawsuit is a disingenuous attempt to secure attorney’s fees posing as a legitimate legal action, which is evidenced by the fact that the suit misrepresents many facts,” Tesla said in a written statement.

Tesla stated that the features that the lawsuit said were “unavailable” were in fact available, and that Tesla provided consumers with updates every month. They also added that they never claimed that their cars currently had “full self-driving capability” and that it was not possible to know when that function would be available for purchase because of local regulatory approval.

“We have always been transparent about the fact that Enhanced Autopilot software is a product that would roll out incrementally over time, and that features would continue to be introduced as validation is completed, subject to regulatory approval,” Tesla said. “The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety.”

What do you think of this class action lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.




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