In its fight with the DMV regarding misleading using of the term “self-driving”, Tesla says that the agency has disregarded its use of the term ‘Full Self-Driving’ for so long, it should be allowed keep using it.

Over the last few years, Tesla has been under pressure from the California DMV over its Autopilot and self-driving claims, which the agency believes could be deceptive.

Last summer, Tesla and the DMV went back and forth about the Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta rollout and marketing around the Full Self-Driving Beta package. It came after the agency had been under some political pressure to force Tesla to report more data about its FSD program.

Over the years, Tesla has been criticized for how it advertises its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). One of the main concerns has been the actual names of the systems: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability. Some people believe that the names suggest that the systems are autonomous, even though they are only driver-assist systems.

Tesla has also been using this description to avoid having to report data like disengagement, like other self-driving programs in California under the DMV’s jurisdiction.

In short, there’s a serious concern that Tesla is using the term “self-driving” when it benefits the company, but it is quick to claim its cars have nothing to do with self-driving when it is to its advantage, like when it’s time to share data on the program.

The DMV has been looking into the matter as a false advertising issue and Tesla was supposed to answer to inquiries about the problem a long-time ago, but it was delaying its answer.

Now, the LA Times has obtained Tesla’s response to the inquiry and it reveals a strange defense for the automaker.

The DMV “has been aware that Tesla has been using the brand names Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability since Tesla started using those names in 2014 and 2016 respectively,” the company said in a response filed in a state administrative court Friday.

The company “relied upon [the DMV’s] implicit approval of these brand names” and “the DMV chose not to take any action against Tesla or otherwise communicate to Tesla that its advertising or use of these brand names was or might be problematic,” the response notice states.

The automaker seems to claim that it should be allowed to keep using the “Full Self-Driving Capability” name because the DMV never objected to it until now.

There’s also a second argument from Tesla.

The automaker claims that preventing the use of the term is an infringement on its free speech:

As to free speech, Tesla claims that the DMV’s false advertising rules on autonomous vehicles “impermissibly restrict constitutionally protected speech that is truthful and nonmisleading.”

How the case will move forward remains to be seen, but the California DMV doesn’t seem to be taking the situation lightly this time.

The agency even talked about revoking Tesla’s manufacturer license, which is being extensively used in California.

Electrek’s Take

Apparently, Tesla believes that there’s a statute of limitations on misleading people about self-driving capabilities.

That’s kind of funny.

Tesla is taking so long to deliver on its self-driving promise that it believes the DMV shouldn’t go after it for selling a self-driving package for 7 years and not delivering it.

I really don’t get that logic.

When it comes to Tesla’s FSD at this point, I’m really in a “put up or shut up” mode.

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MuskWire TLDR:

Tesla is locked in a dispute with the California DMV over its use of the term “self-driving” to describe its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) capabilities. The DMV has accused Tesla of deceptive advertising and has been pressuring the company to provide more data about its FSD program. Tesla has been criticized for using terms like “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” that suggest autonomous capabilities, even though the systems are only driver-assist features. The company has also been accused of selectively using the term “self-driving” to its advantage when it comes to sharing data on the program. Tesla argues that the DMV has allowed it to use these terms for years without objection, and that preventing their use infringes on its free speech rights. The DMV has even threatened to revoke Tesla’s manufacturer license. Critics argue that Tesla should be held accountable for misleading consumers about its self-driving capabilities, especially considering the company’s failure to deliver on its promises in a timely manner.