The new head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called out Tesla's use of "Full Self-Driving" branding for its non-autonomous driver-assistance tech in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
NTSB boss Jennifer Homendy called the Full Self-Driving name "misleading and irresponsible," saying that consumers pay more attention to marketing than warnings in vehicle owners manuals or on automaker websites.
In Tesla's case, "it has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology," she said.
The interview occurred shortly after Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that customers would be able to request an upgrade designed for city driving. Homendy cautioned against this, saying "basic safety issues have to be addressed" before Tesla expands to city driving.
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid
This is by no means the first time the NTSB has had harsh words for Tesla. In a report on a 2016 fatal crash involving Autopilot, it said Tesla lacked "system safeguards to prevent misuse." It's also noted that emergency responders need more training on EV fires as these vehicles become more common.
While it investigates crashes, the NTSB has no regulatory authority. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does, and it opened a formal Tesla safety probe in August, but that hasn't resulted in any new rulemaking yet.
Autopilot—and then Navigate on Autopilot—were features branded "beta" at first.
An informal poll we took years ago indicated that not very many Tesla owners were taking the "beta" part all that seriously. With some essentially untrained Tesla drivers going "no hands" in the city, are things any different now?