Expert Concerns

Tesla Cars Unsafe, Says German Watchdog

Tesla Motors Headquarters
Accidents waiting to happen? Tesla Model S cars. Source: dpa

Tesla’s first generation self-driving electric cars may not be safe on public roads, according to a report by Germany’s central vehicle inspection agency.

The 4,000 Tesla Model S vehicles in Germany equipped with the original Autopilot system “are not built and equipped in such a way that their normal operation does not harm or more than unavoidably endanger anyone,” said the report by the FSD, or Fahrzeugsystemdaten. The Dresden-based company is tasked by German vehicle inspection organizations to improve the precision of inspections. Its head, Jürgen Bönninger, is essentially the bad conscience of all automakers.

Mr. Bönninger was unwilling to comment on his 40-page report, which he said was not intended for public consumption. But Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority, or KBA, which has seen the report, has had concerns about the autopilot system for some time.

“The Federal Motor Transport Authority continues to maintain that the ‘Autopilot’ used by Tesla is purely a driver assistance system,” the transport ministry said on its behalf. In October, the KBA sent a letter to all 4,237 Tesla owners warning them of this fact and that Autopilot should only “be operated with the driver’s constant attention.”

When contacted, Tesla stressed that Autopilot is a driver assistance system and that it has received the KBA’s official permission to use the term.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.