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Electric cars may be our bright and shining future, but for the moment they're having a decidedly less utopian present.
Tesla, the world's preeminent electric vehicle maker, is readying a significant upgrade of its driver-assistance software, but a top regulator insists the tech is dangerous. It's still got a leg up on competitor GM, though, whose Chevy Volt model will experience extended production shutdown because the car keeps catching on fire.
Not as Advertised
While Tesla markets its driver assistance software as "Full Self-Driving," by no means is it manufacturing fully autonomous cars. Drivers are told to keep their hands on the wheel and stay alert. The service can merge between highways and react to traffic lights, but it's no KITT from Knight Rider.
That hasn't stopped Tesla's plans to launch a major upgrade, including city navigation, as soon as this month. But, over the weekend, America's top crash regulator said that's a huge concern:
- Jennifer Homendy, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), told the Wall Street Journal that Tesla's marketing of the software is "misleading and irresponsible" and "has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology."
- The NTSB has investigated three fatal Tesla crashes in which the software was involved and last week sent investigators to probe a crash in Florida that killed two.
Bieber Fever: One could say Homendy's remarks are an understatement. Last year, a TikTok user posted a video showing Tesla driving on the highway with no one in the driver's seat while passengers chugged hard seltzer and blasted Justin Bieber. An Instagram user was arrested in California this year after posting videos of himself riding his car in the back seat.
Flame Ware: Hey, it could be worse. GM has been forced to shut down production of its Chevy Bolt EV until at least mid-October, and has recalled all 150,000 Volts their batteries can catch on fire. In a cryptic warning, Chevy told Bolt owners to park at least 50 feet away from other vehicles this week.