A new California law prohibits Tesla from advertising its cars as capable of “full self driving,” which is bad news for TSLA investors.
That new law, officially called Senate Bill (SB) No. 1398, was sponsored by Democratic state senator Lena Gonzalez, and states that automakers and their dealers must provide consumers, “a clear description” of the function and limitations of semi-autonomous driver assistance features.
“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,” the new law reads. And, in theory, that covers a broad swath of implementation and prevents all auto manufacturers from “deceptively naming or marketing” autonomous vehicle technology.
In practice, though, it’s a ban on Tesla selling cars equipped with its “Autopilot” and “Full Self Driving” features – of which it has already sold many, many thousands – in the state of California.
That’s bad news for TSLA shareholders. Especially since the company is “worth basically zero” if it can’t offer self-driving robotaxis … and that’s not our take. It’s Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s! “The overwhelming focus is on solving full self-driving,” Musk told interviewers on the YouTube channel, Tesla Owners Silicon Valley. “That’s essential. It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero.”
“Basically zero,” in case you haven’t noticed, is a lot less than TSLA is worth today – even after losing about $600 billion market cap over the course of 2022.
It Just Gets Worse and Worse
Tesla was already facing a class action lawsuit from customers filed back in September. That suit, filed by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, argues that Tesla has been misleading buyers about claims surrounding the capabilities of its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Package, and argues that the company knowingly delivered, “a faulty product.”
In a press release announcing the lawsuit, the firm wrote that, despite numerous claims and promises dating back to 2016, “Tesla has yet to produce a fully self-driving car. Tesla owners receiving the latest ‘updates’ to Tesla’s Autopilot software and FSD beta software have reported myriad problems, such as cars having difficulty making routine turns, running red lights, and steering into oncoming traffic. There have also been numerous collisions involving Tesla’s purportedly cutting-edge software, including vehicles crashing at high speeds into large stationary objects, such as emergency vehicles (seen, at top) and an overturned box truck.”
With news of the State of California passing SB 1398, the assumption is that the customer class has a pretty strong case – leading some to believe that 2023 may not be a banner year for the disruptive electric car brand, even if it manages to get the long-promised Cybertruck or Roadster 2.0 on the road!
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