California Law Bans OEMs From False Self-Driving Claims

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
california law bans oems from false self driving claims

There are no fully self-driving cars on the market. That's a simple truth. The Society of Automotive Engineers has determined that there are five levels of autonomous driving, with level five being fully autonomous. As of last year, there were no cars that went beyond Level 2 -- a few potential Level 3 systems were awaiting regulatory approval.

Yet Tesla has labeled its system "Full-Self Driving" and kept the moniker despite a drumbeat of criticism. And while other automakers have avoided doing the same so far, there's nothing stopping them from doing so.

Well, there wasn't. But a new California law set to go into effect after the new year will require automakers to provide a "clear description" of the system, including its limitations.

The law, called SB No. 1398, goes into effect on Sunday. Here's a key passage: "A manufacturer or dealer shall not name any partial driving automation feature, or describe any partial driving automation feature in marketing materials, using language that implies or would otherwise lead a reasonable person to believe, that the feature allows the vehicle to function as an autonomous vehicle, as defined in Section 38750, or otherwise has functionality not actually included in the feature. A violation of this subdivision shall be considered a misleading advertisement for the purposes of Section 11713."

It's unclear what the punishment would be. It's also unclear how it applies based on an OEM's location -- Tesla has moved its HQ to Texas, but still builds some cars in California. Nor is it clear how it would apply to other OEMs that have headquarters elsewhere and have no factories in California.

It does seem to be an obvious shot at Tesla, though, since the company has been using "full-self driving" terminology even when its cars are not full self-driving.

[Image: Tesla]

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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Dec 29, 2022

    If Tesla faces an existential threat, this is it. The whole FSD thing is a potential regulatory disaster, and if the people who were talked into buying this ever hire a class action attorney, the company could face a HUGE payout.

  • Kcflyer Kcflyer on Dec 30, 2022

    California laws always achieve their stated intent so no doubt this will work just as well

    • Pig_Iron Pig_Iron on Jan 01, 2023

      "A dying society collects laws like a dying man collects remedies."

  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)
  • FreedMike @Tim: "...about 40 percent of us Yanks don't live in a single-family home."Keep in mind that this only describes single family **detached** homes. But plenty of other house types offer a garage you can use to charge up in - attached single family homes (townhouses, primarily), or duplex/triplex/four-plexes. Plus, lots of condos have garages built in. Add those types of housing in and that 40% figure drops by a lot. Regardless, this points out what I've been thinking for a while now - EV ownership is great if you have a garage, and inconvenient (and more expensive) if you don't. The good news if you're looking for more EV sales is that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who have garages. If I had one, I'd be looking very closely at buying electric next time around.
  • Matthew N Fanetti I bought a Silver1985 Corolla GTS Hatchback used in 1989 with 80k miles for $5000. I was kin struggling student and I had no idea how good the car really was. All I knew was on the test drive I got to 80 faster than I expected from a Corolla. Slowly I figured out how special it was. It handled like nothing I had driven before, tearing up backroads at speeds that were downright crazy. On the highway I had it to about 128mph on two occasions, though it took some time to get there, it just kept going until I chickened out. I was an irresponsible kids doing donuts in parking lots and coming of corners sideways. I really drove it hard, but it never needed engine repair even to the day I sold it in 1999 with 225000 miles on it, still running well - but rusty and things were beginning to crap out (Like AC, etc.). I smoked a same year Mustang GT - off the line - by revving up and dumping the clutch. Started to go sideways, but nothing broke or even needed attention. Daily driving, only needed the clutch into first. It was that smooth and well-synced. Super tight, but drivable LSD. Just awesome from daily chores to super-fun.To this day I wish I had kept it, because now I have the money to fix it. It is hard to explain how amazing this car was back in the day - and available to people with limited money - and still the highest quality.
  • Cprescott Well, duh. You will pay more to charge a golf cart than an ICE of the same size if you charge externally. Plus when you factor in the lost time, you will pay through the nose more than an ICE on lost opportunity costs. Golf car ownership savings is pure myth.