The driver who crashed says Tesla’s sales staff promoted the system as “self-driving.”
Tesla said on Wednesday that one of its cars had crashed in Beijing while in “autopilot” mode, with the driver contending sales staff sold the function as “self-driving,” overplaying its actual capabilities.
Tesla said it had reviewed data to confirm the car was in autopilot mode, a system that takes control of steering and braking in certain conditions.
The company, which is investigating the crash in China’s capital last week, also said it was the driver’s responsibility to maintain control of the vehicle. In this case, it said, the driver’s hands were not detected on the steering wheel.
A 33-year-old programmer at a tech firm, Luo Zhen was driving to work and engaged the autopilot function as he often does on Beijing’s highways, he told Reuters in his first interview with international media.
Luo, who filmed the incident with a dashboard camera, said his car hit a vehicle parked half off the road. The accident sheered off the parked vehicle’s side mirror and scraped both cars, but caused no injuries.
Luo, however, blamed the crash on a fault in the autopilot system and said Tesla’s sales staff strongly promoted the system as “self-driving.”
The term “zidong jiashi” appears several times on Tesla’s Chinese portal, which is most literally translated to mean “self-driving.” It is also the term for airplane autopilot, leaving room for confusion among consumers.
“We have never described autopilot as an autonomous technology or a ‘self-driving car,’ and any third-party descriptions to this effect are not accurate,” the Tesla spokeswoman said.
Unsatisfied with Tesla’s initial response to his crash, Luo posted pictures and a video of the crash on Chinese social media platform Weibo describing the incident and criticizing the company.
The pictures show damages to his blue Tesla Model S and a parked Volkswagen, while the dashboard camera video captures the lead up to the crash and the car subsequently stopping.