SHANGHAI—Tesla Motor Inc. has revised the marketing of its Autopilot feature in China, after a Beijing driver who sideswiped a parked car when the system was engaged accused the car maker of overplaying its capabilities.
Since the weekend, the company has scaled back its description of Autopilot on its website and in other marketing materials from zi dong jia shi, meaning the car can drive itself, to zi dong fu zhu jia shi, meaning it is a driver-assist system. Also, Tesla has told its China-based sales staff to make the system’s limitations clear to consumers.
Autopilot is designed to help drivers change lanes, maintain a safe speed and find parking spaces. When drivers turn it on, a message appears on the instrument panel warning them to keep their hands on the wheel.
In China, the Autopilot issue went viral last week when Luo Zhen,the Beijing driver, posted a video showing how his Tesla brushed an illegally parked Volkswagen on a highway while Autopilot was activated. There were no injuries. Tesla confirmed the incident, but added that the driver was detected not to have had his hands on the wheel despite the dashboard warning—and Chinese traffic laws, which require two hands on the wheel at all times.
Mr. Luo admitted taking his hands off the steering wheel before the accident. But the 33-year-old programmer said Tesla sales representatives had misled him into thinking that the car has full self-driving capabilities, even taking their own hands off the wheel when demonstrating Autopilot. – Article published on WSJ