Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) has privately admitted that CEO Elon Musk has been overstating the capability of the electric vehicle maker’s self-driving technology.
What Happened: Tesla’s director of Autopilot software CJ Moore made the admission to regulators of the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) autonomous vehicles branch, according to a memo of a conference call in March between the regulators and four Tesla employees.
The memo was released by the transparency website PlainSite, which received the documents following a public records request.
“Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality per CJ. Tesla is at Level 2 currently,” the memo that summarized a conversation between the California DMV and four Tesla employees said, referring to Moore. Level 2 technology refers to a semi-automated driving system, which requires supervision by a human driver.
The memo also showed that, contrary to Musk’s comments, Tesla representatives told the DMV that the company is unlikely to achieve Level 5 (L5) autonomy by the end of 2021. Level 5 autonomy means cars can drive themselves under all conditions without any human supervision.
Why It Matters: Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) is an advanced driver assistance system, while autopilot is part of all its vehicles. The Elon Musk-led company has rolled out a “beta” version of the FSD software to a small set of customers.
The feature costs $10,000 and is expected to be available through a subscription model by June. Musk has promised that FSD will one day deliver full autonomous driving capabilities.
In a January earnings call, Musk said he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of a human this year.” The CEO has also frequently touted FSD improvements on Twitter.
Musk said in late April that the upcoming beta version of the company’s Full Self-Driving software will “blow your mind” and arrive in two weeks' time.
Tesla has also been drawing increasing attention to its vehicle safety. A fatal Model S crash in Texas in April is the 28th Tesla accident to be investigated by the NHTSA, according to Reuters.
Price Action: Tesla shares closed almost 1.3% higher on Friday at $672.08.
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