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Tesla's Autopilot 2 Fiasco - Another Prominent Example Of "Overpromise, Underdeliver"

|Includes: Tesla, Inc. (TSLA)

Having just penned a longer article on Tesla's various unique "advantages" that I mostly consider myths I didn't want to write another article on the company.

However, Tesla's latest Autopilot 2 fiasco is worth discussing. Lawsuits were a matter of time in my opinion - now they are happening:

Tesla owners sue: "Enhanced Autopilot Features… simply too dangerous to be used"


Another SA member (going by the avatar name C.A.M.) helpfully posted two very detailed and longer comments on this topic recently.

Since blog entries don't pay a penny on SA, I hope he / she is ok with me quoting two of his / her comments covering Tesla's "Autopilot 2" fiasco:

1. A Short History On How "Autopilot 2.0" Came To Be

Here is a brief refresher of how we got here and how AutoPilot2 came to be.

1. Driver using autopilot in Florida is killed in accident when his ModelS slams into the side of semi-truck crossing a highway in broad daylight.

2. This news which could have a material impact on the price of the company's stock is known at Tesla but not revealed.

3. Mere days after this crash a second stock offering is completed. Tesla did not disclose the autopilot death until after the $2 billion dollar stock sale.

4. MobilEye fires Tesla as a client. They believe Musk is using their autonomous technology in a reckless, dangerous and negligent fashion.

5. While Tesla has no real lead or advantage in autonomous driving they are in danger of loosing one of their main PR, sales and stock pumps of being an autonomous driving leader. MobilEye takes away core of autopilot 1. Tesla has nothing ready to replace it.. When they do it is a step BACKWARDS.

6. Musk must execute controversial Solar City bailout - buyout in which Tesla will backstop any losses to Musk and his cousins. A messy bankruptcy is in the cards for Solar City and that sort of collapse would not be helpful in keeping the Tesla punch bowl full.

7. Leading up to the shareholder / board vote on the SCTY bailout in Nov, out of the blue comes the lore of AutoPilot 2. From October to December Musk repeatedly says, in his own gobbly gook way of speaking, the vastly superior system will have feature parity with Auto Pilot 1 by end of 2016. He stutters and stammers through a chorus of "everything is fine, we won't miss a beat, things are better than ever, we're geniuses"

8. Tesla's bailout of Solar City is approved by a depleted board of directors and shareholders in mid Nov.

9. 2016 wraps up with no real roll out of AutoPilot2 features.

10. As limited features with limited capabilities are slowly trickled out from Jan to Mar drivers and press realize a host of dangerous or frustrating problems. Apologist start calling the system "in beta testing".

11. Folks are still waiting for a safe, reliable version of Auto Pilot 2 that has feature parity with Auto Pilot 1.
Whole thing stinks of a house of cards barely able to keep up appearance as to not disturb the financial machinery of stock sales, bailouts, compensation metric targets and other shenanigans.

Each one of those overview points have troubling backstories in and of themselves. Individually and collectively they reveal major cracks in the fairytale narrative Tesla has built around being a autonomous driving leader. Appears they had to scramble and build a barely operating system in haste when the real geniuses decided to leave Elon's circus of irresponsibility. (Source)

2. Aggressive Advertising Of "Autopilot 2.0" By Tesla And CEO Musk

Tesla's legal department is asleep at the wheel or hasn't earned their learners permit yet. Marketing is following the lead of the Huckster in Chief, Elon Musk, unbridled.
Tesla PR department aggressively promoted a released called "All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware". That can be extremely misleading to consumers as not everyone is a kool-aid guzzling member of the cult. There are additional double talk details deeper in the press release but the headline alone is a huge issue.
Normal responsible upstanding companies run by adults are typically very careful about that stuff. They know legal trouble is possible if they even get close to an area of confusion.
I think these guys have a case especially when coupled with Elon's zeal to over promote and the willingness of the tech press to follow that lead as he typically insists.

TESLA: All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware / October 19, 2016

CNBC: "All Tesla vehicles being produced now have full self-driving hardware"

NBC: "All Tesla Vehicles Being Produced Now Have Self-Driving Hardware"

Electrek: "Tesla announces all production cars now have fully self-driving hardware"

Road & Track: "Every New Tesla, Including Model 3, To Get Hardware For Full Autonomy
As of today, every Tesla comes with the hardware for full self-driving capability."

And some video clips from the Huckster in Chief.

Sorry. The headlines and Musks public and twitter tap dances outweigh the fine print. These lawsuits will start as civil cases. You don't have to be Perry Mason, just an objective, reasonable person willing to use their head to see that Tesla has great liability here.
Could a consumer be misled by the actions and statements of the company? And could they be misled into doing something dangerous? If I test drive an ModelS in July and order in November is there a reasonable expectation for my vehicle to be as operable as the one I test drove? Would that lead me to believe Tesla when they say it would happen by the end of the year? (...)


I couldn't have put it better myself.

Again, the two comments above were written by SA user C.A.M.. All credit to him / her for these two comments.

I just quoted them for future reference (also because SA 's user comments unfortunately are no longer easily searchable by ticker or publication date, they easily slip into a vast sea of data over time...).

Bottom line: Another entry in Tesla's long list of "Overpromise - Underdeliver".

PS: What is Tesla's CEO doing? He apparently just took up another CEO role:

Elon Musk's Neuralink wants to turn cloud-based AI into an extension of our brains


I will leave it at that.

Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.