Tesla was ordered by a German court to buy back a Model 3 for $76,000 from a disgruntled customer who said the electric sedan’s Autopilot feature was so poor it mimicked a “drunk novice driver”.
The ruling by a judge at the regional court in Darmstadt, near the southwestern German city of Frankfurt, is the latest PR black eye for the much-maligned Full Self-Driving package of Tesla.
Tesla has appealed the court’s decision, according to the Spiegel, German-language daily. He claimed that any issues with the vehicle’s software could have been fixed with an upgrade, which would have been free.
The plaintiff in the case told the court that he spent nearly $7,000 on Autopilot features that didn’t even work.
According to Spiegel, “assistance functions such as automatically overtaking slower vehicles on the highway did not work.”
“The steering behavior at entrances and exits or at motorway junctions is spongy and resembles that of a ‘drunken novice driver’,” the German outlet reported.
The Model 3 also didn’t “recognize” traffic lights and stop signs, according to Spiegel.
Tesla boss Elon Musk admitted last year that his company’s FSD technology beta was “not great”.
“FSD Beta 9.2 is actually not great [in my opinion], but the Autopilot/AI team is mobilizing to improve as quickly as possible. We’re trying to have a single stack for highways and city streets, but that requires massive recycling of NNs,” Musk said.
Tesla’s FSD software is a more premium iteration of the company’s Autopilot system.
Autopilot, which is standard on every new Tesla, provides traffic-sensitive cruise control and autopilot, though the company says a driver should always be alert behind the wheel.
The FSD package, which retails for $10,000 or $199 per month in the US, offers more features like auto-lane change and smart summon.
But European buyers cannot access many features of the function due to local traffic rules.
German authorities last year launched an investigation into Tesla’s automatic lane change technology.
Despite public perception, Tesla claims that FSD and its associated features require “active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle self-driving”.
FSD Beta, which offers state-of-the-art updates to the full self-driving software, is only available to select Tesla drivers and employees.
Critics have previously decried Tesla’s real-time testing of its FSD Beta software on public roads as reckless, but there is little regulation in the area of self-driving software.