Tesla is reportedly facing a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over claims the company has made about its driver-assistance technology.
This latest investigation is actually not new. According to three anonymous sources that spoke with Reuters, the probe was initially launched last year and is looking into whether Tesla “misled consumers, investors and regulators by making unsupported claims about its driver assistance technology’s capabilities.”
If the probe finds that Tesla did in fact overstate the capabilities of the technology, the DOJ could seek criminal charges or civil sanctions against the automaker, or particular executives.
A decision is not expected soon and there is still much work to complete, one of the sources explained. Also slowing things down are two other concurrent DOJ investigations involving Tesla.
The investigation could face significant hurdles building a case however considering Tesla has been clear about the technology’s limitations. The automaker provides numerous disclaimers on its website that either Autopilot or FSD does not make the car fully autonomous.
There are also additional warnings presented to drivers in the vehicle that they must remain attentive behind the wheel and be ready to take control at any time.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also currently investigating Tesla’s Autopilot technology and the role it played, if any, in several crashes involving parked emergency vehicles.
Tesla is also facing a potential class-action lawsuit claiming the automaker knew their statements on Autopilot and FSD were deceptive and misleading but made them anyway to “hype” the technology and their vehicles to increase sales.