More money that must be paid back by Tesla

Tesla’s back in the news and, lo and behold, it’s again because they have to pay a few million dollars back. This time, the money will go to aggravated customers who bought the $5,000-worth Autopilot 2.0 suite only to find out that they have to wait months before it actually becomes available.

As part of the $5,400,000 settlement, which will see Tesla pay back customers anywhere between $25 and $280 depending on when they purchased the car. Basically, Tesla announced they will release the Autopilot 2.0 group of functions in December of 2016 in two separate packages: the ’Enhanced Autopilot’ package which was priced at $5,000 and the ’Fully Self-Driving’ package which cost $2,000 less. Sadly for customers, Tesla couldn’t keep up to its side of the bargain so lawsuits were filed aplenty.

Tesla’s bold claims backfire, again

Tesla Must Pony Up $5 Million In Reimbursements Over Autopilot 2.0 Delays High Resolution
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Back in the autumn of 2016, Tesla announced its plans to roll out the 2.0 version of its complex Autopilot integrated system.

As per usual, customers would download the updates while new cars would arrive already equipped with the new system which was divided into two tiers: you could have the cheaper ’Fully Self-Driving’ package or the more expensive ’Enhanced Autopilot’ package. However, despite a December 2016 launch date, new Teslas didn’t come with the full Autopilot 2.0 experience from the factory up until October of this year, a full 12 months after the original announcement was made.

According to Electrek, "it was later revealed that Tesla planned to first use Mobileye’s technology for the second generation Autopilot and gradually phase it out in favor of its own, but they couldn’t come to an agreement and the two companies had a hard fallout". To add insult to injury, Electrek points out that "Tesla had several changes in the Autopilot leadership team which also likely contributed to further delays in the rollout of new software updates".

But customers didn’t let this one slip and gathered together to file a class lawsuit on behalf of all Tesla owners that should have benefitted from the Autopilot 2.0 system last year.

"Tesla’s deception has resulted in economic injury to owners of its 2016-2017 models that were sold with the ’HW 2.x’2 hardware purportedly required for Enhanced Auto Pilot and Full- Self Driving Capability (the ’Affected Vehicles’). By selling vehicles with inoperative Standard Safety Features and inoperative Enhanced Autopilot and Full-Self Driving features, Tesla defrauded its customers and engaged in unfair competition", is what the text of the lawsuit claims.

Tesla Must Pony Up $5 Million In Reimbursements Over Autopilot 2.0 Delays
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The injured party goes on to add that "customers did not receive the benefit of their bargain — they paid many thousands of dollars for products they did not receive. Further, consumers such as Plaintiffs would never have bought their Tesla vehicles at all, or would have paid thousands less for them, but for the promised Standard Safety Features the vehicles were supposed to come with, and Enhanced Autopilot and Full-Self Driving capabilities consumers could supposedly activate in short order by purchasing Tesla’s expensive software options," adds the text of the lawsuit.

According to The Telegraph, one of the leaders of the movement to pin Tesla to the wall for their inability to meet self-imposed deadlines, Dean Sheikh, complained in the lawsuit that " once installed, [the system] was ’unpredictable’ and unsafe".

According to the same Electrek article, "Tesla agreed to place $5,032,530 in a settlement fund to partially reimburse ’U.S. residents who purchased Enhanced Autopilot in connection with their purchase or lease of a Tesla Hardware 2 Model S or Model X vehicle delivered to them on or before September 30, 2017’. The fund will also be used to pay the attorneys’ fees and the class representative fees." If the payment is approved in court, Tesla will pay its customers back according to the date when they bought or leased the cars in question.

Tesla themselves released a statement after the parties reached common ground. The company first boasted that "since rolling out our second generation of Autopilot hardware in October 2016, we have continued to provide software updates that have led to a major improvement in Autopilot functionality. Our neural net, which expands as our customer fleet grows, is able to collect and analyze more high-quality data than ever before, which will enable us to roll out a series of new Autopilot features in 2018 and beyond". The automaker also pointed out that "customer response to our recent Autopilot updates has been overwhelmingly positive, so we know we’re on the right track".

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However, in the same statement, Tesla acknowledged that "it eventually became clear that it was taking us longer to roll out these features than we would have liked or initially expected". There’s also an interesting mention in the statement: "Although the settlement is specific to customers in the U.S., if it is approved by the court, we’ve decided to compensate all customers globally in the same way. There’s no legal obligation to do so, but it’s the right thing to do".

That is, of course, the right thing to do. But what does it amount to? I mean, those customers did pay $3,000 to $5,000 and they’re only getting back no more than $280. Was all this legal hassle worth it, then? Of course, Tesla isn’t new to such trouble and The Drive reported in October that "Tesla fans also faced delays with the recent Autopilot V9 upgrade which was intended to feature the brand’s Navigation functionality". But it still feels like too much for too little.

What’s your take on the matter? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Further Reading

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Source: Electrek

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