Tesla (TSLA) is facing growing intrigue about its “Full Self-Driving” and Autopilot features following a string of public mishaps and has now been subpoenaed by the Justice Department for more information.
“To our knowledge no government agency in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing occurred,” Tesla said Tuesday in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tesla is already in the midst of multiple investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for problems with its two automated driver-assist systems.
The company and its CEO, Elon Musk, have repeatedly stated that the cars cannot truly drive themselves. Teslas using Full Self-Driving can navigate highways and maneuver through streets but are still prone to mistakes in certain environments.
“We’re not saying it’s quite ready to have no one behind the wheel,” Musk said in October.
Despite the admittance, Tesla has still caught flack for what some deem to be misleading advertising. In 2022, the California Department of Motor Vehicles accused the popular electric vehicle maker of falsely advertising its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features on its website.
“All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go,” the company promised. “If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways.”
Tesla vehicles “could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles,” according to the DMV’s complaint, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Tesla has since changed the feature’s description on its website.
Full Self-Driving hit the market in late 2015 and currently costs $15,000 to activate the system. Since 2021, Tesla has been beta-testing its self-driving features using owners who haven’t been trained on the system but are actively monitored by the company.
Auto safety advocates and government investigators have long criticized Tesla’s monitoring system as inadequate. A driver using Autopilot was killed after his Tesla went under a tractor-trailer crossing its path in Florida in 2016, and at least 14 Tesla vehicles have crashed into emergency vehicles while using the automated system.
The biggest concern with officials has been Tesla’s lack of notification for drivers to stay alert when using the Full Self-Driving or Autopilot features. The NHTSA has noted that numerous Tesla crashes have occurred in which drivers were in an alert position but still weren’t paying attention.
The agency has also said that Autopilot continues to be used in areas where its capabilities are limited.
In its Tuesday filing, Tesla made sure to note the effect potential government enforcement tactics could have on its business, further tarnishing its reputation in the industry.
As of Tuesday at 12:03 p.m. ET, shares of Tesla were trading at $170.35, up $3.69, or 2.22%.