Court orders Tesla to buy back Model 3 in Autopilot case

Tesla has been ordered by a German court to buy back a $76,000 Model 3 from a disgruntled customer who said the electric sedan’s autopilot function was so bad it mimicked a “drunk novice driver.”

The ruling by a judge at the Darmstadt Regional Court near the southwest German city of Frankfurt is the latest publicity black eye for Tesla’s much-maligned full self-driving package.

Tesla has appealed the court’s ruling German-language daily newspaper Spiegel. It claimed that any problems with the vehicle’s software could have been fixed with a free upgrade.

The plaintiff in the case told the court that they spent nearly $7,000 on the autopilot features, which didn’t even work.

According to Spiegel, the “assistance functions such as automatically overtaking slower vehicles on the motorway did not work”.

A German Tesla driver complained about errors in the vehicle's self-driving software.
A German Tesla driver complained about errors in the vehicle’s self-driving software.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“The steering behavior at entrances and exits or motorway junctions is spongy and resembles that of a ‘drunk novice driver’,” reported the Germany media.

The Model 3 also did not “recognize” traffic lights and stop signs, according to Spiegel.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted last year that his company’s beta version of FSD technology was “not great.”

“FSD Beta 9.2 is actually not great [in my opinion], but the Autopilot/AI team is trying to improve as quickly as possible. We’re trying to have a single stack for freeways and city streets, but that requires massive retraining of the NN,” Musk said.

Tesla’s FSD software is a higher-end iteration of the company’s Autopilot system.

Autopilot, which is standard on every new Tesla, offers traffic-aware cruise control and automatic steering, although the company says a driver still needs to be alert behind the wheel.

The FSD package, which retails for $10,000 or $199 per month in the US, adds more features like automatic lane changes and Smart Summon.

However, European buyers cannot access many features of the feature due to local traffic regulations.

Musk admitted last year that the company's beta software was full self-driving "not good."
Musk admitted last year that the company’s Full Self-Driving Beta software is “not great.”
Getty Images

German authorities launched an investigation into Tesla’s automatic lane-changing technology last year.

Despite public perception, Tesla says FSD and its associated features “require active driver monitoring and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

FSD Beta, which provides cutting-edge updates to the full self-driving software, is only available to some drivers and Tesla employees.

Critics have previously called Tesla’s real-time testing of its FSD beta software on public roads reckless, but autonomous driving software is largely unregulated. Court orders Tesla to buy back Model 3 in Autopilot case


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