South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) initiated an investigation concerning possibly false advertisements made by Tesla, Inc. according to industry sources.
The US-based automobile company claimed its autopilot technology has full autonomous vehicle capabilities. Tesla advertised that its autopilot system controls the vehicle’s direction and the speed at which it travels.
According to auto industry experts, Tesla’s autopilot system still needs driver assistance compared to the kind of fully autonomous driving that does not require the help of a driver. Tesla provided a false impression that the autopilot function makes the car drive by itself.
The country’s top antitrust regulator was looking into whether Tesla’s description may have exaggerated its claims and violated Korea’s fair labeling and advertising laws.
Following a German Court Ruling
The review by Korea’s antitrust agency stemmed from a German court ruling in Munich in favor of The Center for Protection Against Unfair Competition, the same issue last week.
Andreas Ottofuelling, the organization’s lawyer, stated that the lawful outline for autonomous inner-city driving still does not exist in Germany yet, which discredits Tesla’s advertisements. Tesla misled consumers regarding their autopilot driving systems.
Resulting from the Munich ruling, the Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty, a nonprofit organization in South Korea, pressed the US-based automaker to remove its advertisement and ensure that Tesla must lay down the actual restrictions of its autopilot system.
The CUCS also stated that the agency considers filing a complaint against Tesla if the government does not take action soon in protecting consumer rights.
Industry observers suppose that the definition of the term “autonomous driving” would make the investigation difficult. The autopilot system helps drivers stay in their proper lanes while maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles.
SAE International Carmakers typically rely on the six levels of autonomous driving. Level six is fully autonomous, while level four automated driving allows a vehicle to perform all driving functions limited in certain conditions. Tesla’s autonomous vehicles only offer “limited self-driving” and described as level three.
Currently, Tesla’s electric vehicle surpassed domestic electric vehicles in the Korean market. The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) said that Tesla’s Model 3 has already sold 6,839 units in Korea in the first half of this year.