Market Commentary

California Judge Denies TSLA's Bid to Dismiss Self-Driving Claims

Jahanzeb Salam
11 Jun 2024 · 2 minutes read

In a recent development, California's administrative judge, Juliet Cox from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), rejected Tesla's (TSLA:US) attempt to dismiss claims regarding the exaggeration of its vehicles' self-driving capabilities. 

This decision came after the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) accused Tesla in July 2022 of misleading consumers about the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies. 

The DMV contends that these technologies cannot function as fully autonomous vehicles as advertised, potentially leading to severe consequences for Tesla, including the suspension of its license to sell vehicles in California and restitution to affected vehicle owners.

Neither Tesla nor its legal representatives have offered any comments on the ruling, and the DMV has opted not to comment on the decision either. The claims are set for a formal review on September 9.

This ruling follows a May 15 decision by a federal judge in San Francisco, who also denied Tesla's attempt to dismiss a nationwide class action lawsuit making similar claims about self-driving capabilities. Additionally, Tesla is under ongoing federal investigations regarding whether its self-driving technology contributed to fatal crashes and if the company misled investors regarding these capabilities.

While Tesla insists that Autopilot and Full Self-Driving allow vehicles to steer, accelerate, brake within lanes, and comply with traffic signals and lane changes, it acknowledges that these technologies do not make vehicles autonomous, and drivers must remain attentive.

Judge Cox underscored in her five-page decision that it was premature to dismiss the DMV case without a formal hearing, despite Tesla's assertion that sufficient documentation was already available for a ruling.

California remains Tesla's largest U.S. market, accounting for about 10% of global deliveries. However, Tesla's market share in the state's electric vehicle sector has declined, dropping to 55.4% in the first quarter from 61.8% a year earlier.

When it comes down to congressional trading, Representatives Josh Gottheimer and Ro Khanna were recently seen investing in the EV manufacturer in May 2024. Both lawmakers invested in the value ranges of $1,000 to $15,000 on their respective days.