Tesla Autopilot arbitration win could set legal benchmark in auto industry

In a victory for Tesla, a California federal judge ruled over the weekend that a group of Tesla owners cannot pursue in court claims that the company falsely advertised its automated features. Instead, they will have to face individual arbitration. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam’s ruling isn’t a win for the defensibility of Tesla’s advanced […]

Elon Musk teases free Tesla FSD trial in North America

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has laid out a rough plan for expanding access to Full Self-Driving (FSD), the company’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), throughout North America and the rest of the world.

“Once FSD is super smooth (not just safe), we will roll out a free month trial for all cars in North America,” Musk tweeted Monday. “Then extend to rest of world after we ensure it works well on local roads and regulators approve it in that country.”

Despite what its name suggests, FSD does not actually allow a car to drive itself fully. The newest version of the beta software automates some driving tasks on both highways and city streets, but it still requires the driver to stay alert and take over control of the vehicle at any time.

Musk did not provide a specific timeline for extending access to FSD beyond North America, where the $15,000 add-on has been available to “anyone who requests it” since November. Nor did the executive elaborate on why Tesla would roll out a free one-month trial for all Tesla vehicles on the continent, but the reason is likely twofold.

FSD, which is powered by deep neural networks, is technically still in the beta stage. That means it requires reams of data to train and improve. By rolling FSD out to every Tesla in North America, even if it’s just for one month, the automaker can collect another hefty chunk of driving data while simultaneously drumming up hype for the software and its capabilities — the Tesla equivalent of giving out a free taste of ice cream to get you to buy a scoop.

“We test as much as possible in simulation and with [quality assurance] drivers, but reality is vastly more complex,” Musk tweeted over the weekend, alongside news that the latest version of FSD would ship to Tesla employees this week.

The executive also teased capabilities for the next version of FSD, which Musk said would have “end-to-end AI.”

Outside of North America, Tesla has been limited in its ability to give drivers access to FSD due to stricter regulations. Drivers only have access to Autopilot, Tesla’s standard ADAS, which includes features like automatic steering within a lane, automatic braking and automatic navigation to highway on- and off-ramps, but it’s a dialed-back version. FSD is still not yet allowed on public roads.

However, there have been some moves over the last month by the European Commission to speed up regulation on ADAS. The Commission aims to have new regulation submitted in full by September 2024, with the option available both for an earlier deadline and for pre-deployment testing of systems.

Meanwhile in Asian markets like China, where Tesla Autopilot is available to drivers, there have been recent reports that the automaker will soon begin large-scale FSD testing.

The potential widespread rollout comes as FSD and Autopilot have gotten the automaker into hot water in recent years. The systems have been the subject of numerous lawsuits and federal investigations, including a criminal investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice. The family of an Apple engineer who died in a car crash while Autopilot was allegedly activated is currently underway, and Musk will likely have to take the stand to defend comments he made about the capabilities of the system.

Elon Musk teases free Tesla FSD trial in North America by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

NHTSA requests info after Tesla crashes into fire truck

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Monday it has asked Tesla to provide more information after one of its vehicles crashed into a fire truck in California, Bloomberg reported.

The agency did not confirm to TechCrunch what kind of information it is seeking, but NHTSA likely wants to determine whether one of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) — Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta — was engaged at the time of the crash.

The Contra Costa County fire department tweeted about the incident Saturday, asking road users to slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles.

“Truck 1 was struck by a Tesla while blocking I-680 lanes from a previous accident,” the tweet said. “Driver pronounced dead on-scene; passenger was extricated & transported to hospital. Four firefighters also transported for evaluation.”

The tweet included photos of the accident, including several of a completely totaled Tesla.

NHTSA has opened dozens of special crash investigations (SCI) into Tesla vehicles where Autopilot was suspected of being used. Of the 48 SCIs that have been opened and closed between June 2016 and July 2022, 39 involved Teslas. And of those 39, only three were confirmed to have not involved Autopilot. NHTSA still has many open investigations into crashes involving Teslas, some of which were fatal. The agency doesn’t comment on open investigations.

This latest fatal crash comes a few days after Tesla issued a recall for 362,758 vehicles to update its FSD software after regulators said FSD could allow the vehicles to act unsafe around intersections and cause crashes. The recall followed a Super Bowl ad taken out by Tesla’s biggest hater, The Dawn Project, that called on regulators to ban FSD until critical safety defects are fixed.

Tesla has come under scrutiny from a range of federal and state regulators for the safety of its ADAS. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice requested information from Tesla on Autopilot and FSD, potentially as part of a criminal investigation into the company.

NHTSA requests info after Tesla crashes into fire truck by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla said to face criminal investigation by the Department of Justice over self-driving claims

Tesla is said to be facing a criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Justice facing claims made by the company regarding its “Autopilot” capabilities, Reuters reports, citing “three people familiar with the matter.” The inquiry was launched last year per the sources and was initiated following over a dozen accidents involving the active use of Tesla’s Autopilot system, some resulting in fatalities.

Tesla, and in particular CEO Elon Musk have been bold in their claims regarding Autopilot’s capabilities: The company’s so-called “Full Self-Driving” or FSD (which is not that at all, by the way, even by the admission of the company’s own materials) beta launched in October of 2020, and now has over 100,000 members enrolled from the larger global Tesla owner population, according to the most recent public numbers.

The automaker still cautions users of “Autopilot,” “Enhanced Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving Capability” that they must remain “alert,” with their “hands on the steering wheel at all times” and that they “maintain control of [their] car.”

That said, Musk himself has suggested FSD could be “safer than a human” before the end of this year in an earrings call from January. It was a reiteration of a claim from a year prior he made on Twitter, noting that FSD would “work at a safety level well above that of the average driver this year.”

Note that just because the DoJ is investigating doesn’t mean criminal charges will necessarily result — they could opt to pursue civil action, do nothing at all or level charges.

Tesla said to face criminal investigation by the Department of Justice over self-driving claims by Darrell Etherington originally published on TechCrunch

Many Americans treat driver assist systems like self-driving

Many Americans feel comfortable treating their advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which partially automate certain driving functions, as full self-driving systems, according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The survey explored habits, expectations and attitudes among regular users of General Motors Super Cruise, Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT Assist and Tesla Autopilot. A total of 604 participants spread more or less evenly across the different brands took part in the survey from January to November 2021. All three groups were found to be more likely to engage in non-driving related activities — like texting or eating — while using their systems than when driving manually.

That was especially true for Super Cruise and Autopilot users, who were more likely to report performing activities that would take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. Super Cruise and Autopilot users also said they could perform these types of tasks better and more often while using their systems, according to the study.

A total of 53% of Super Cruise users, 42% of Autopilot users and 12% of ProPILOT Assist users said they were comfortable treating their systems as self-driving.

The study’s publishing follows a series of incidents involving the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot system, and by extension, its “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) system, the company’s more advanced ADAS. Last month, some Tesla drivers filed suit against the company for falsely advertising the autonomous capabilities of Autopilot and FSD, something California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has also recently accused Tesla of.

In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked Tesla to provide more information about its cabin camera — which is meant to monitor the alertness of drivers using Autopilot and FSD — as part of its ongoing probe into 830,000 Teslas that include Autopilot. NHTSA is currently investigating 16 crashes in which Tesla owners had potentially engaged such systems before crashing into stationary emergency vehicles.

GM’s Super Cruise, by comparison, has not shown up in NHTSA’s database of investigations. That said, NHTSA has only been asking manufacturers of automated driving systems and ADAS to report crashes to the agency since last year. Super Cruise first appeared on vehicles in 2017, so it’s possible crashes occurred over that four-year period. GM did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for information about crashes, nor did it share the number of vehicles on the road with Super Cruise enabled. However, it will be far fewer than the number of vehicles with Tesla’s Autopilot, which comes standard on all new Teslas.

Super Cruise’s safeguards have also been described as more robust than Tesla’s. Consumer Reports issued ratings for ADAS on certain vehicles earlier this year, and found that Super Cruise and Ford’s Blue Cruise were the only automakers to receive two extra points for having systems that encourage safe driving. During CR’s tests of different GM vehicles, the agency said that each delivered “multiple warnings to grab an inattentive driver’s attention.”

“If the driver still does not react, the system will start to slow the car down on its own, eventually bringing it to a stop. The system won’t operate if the camera is covered,” according to a statement from CR. 

With Tesla Model Y and S vehicles with software version 11.0, drivers could use Autopilot even with the vehicle’s cabin camera fully covered, according to CR. If the camera detected the driver’s eyes were off the road, it would shorten how long the driver could take their hands off the wheel. However, as long as the driver’s hands remained on the wheel, CR found no warnings if the eyes were off the road. 

The IIHS survey found that some drivers in the survey said such user safeguards, like attention reminders and lockouts, were annoying and they would try to circumvent them. However, most people said they found those safeguards helpful and felt safer with them.

The study suggests that driver monitoring systems and “multifaceted, proactive user-centric safeguards” are key to shaping proper behavior and understanding about drivers’ roles while using partial driving automation.

“Some regular users have a poor understanding of their technology’s limits,” the study reads. “System design appears to contribute to user perceptions and behavior.”

Many Americans treat driver assist systems like self-driving by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla’s robot strategy is inextricably tied to its Autopilot strategy, for better or for worse

Tesla unveiled its first actual prototype of its Optimus humanoid robot on Friday — an actual robot this time, by the strictest definition, instead of a rreal flesh and blood human clad in a weird suit. The robot performed some basic functions, including walking a little bit and then raising its hands — all for the first time without supports or a crane, according to Tesla founder Elon Musk.

The company may be taking its first early steps into humanoid robotics, but it has a lot riding on the business. Musk has said that the Optimus bot will eventually be more valuable “than the car business, worth more than FSD [Tesla’s add-on ‘Full Self-Driving’ feature which does no such thing].”

What was apparent at the event on Friday night is that Tesla is making the economically wise, but strategically questionable decision to yoke together the destinies of both Optimus and its Autopilot (and by extension, FSD) ambitions.

Tesla suggested that the reason it’s been able to move so quickly in the robotics world is that it has already laid a lot of the groundwork in its work attempting to develop autonomous driving for vehicles.

“Think about it. We’re just moving from wheels to our legs,” explained one of the company’s engineers. “So some of the components are pretty similar […] It’s exactly the same occupancy network. Now we’ll talk a little bit more details later with Autopilot team […] The only thing that changed really is the training data.”

It was a recurring theme throughout the presentation, with various presenters from Tesla (the company trotted out many, as is maybe to be expected for an event billed primarily as a recruiting exercise) bringing up how closely tied the two realms of research and development actually are.

In truth, what Tesla showed with its robot on stage at the event was a very brief demo that barely matched and definitely didn’t exceed a large number of humanoid robot demonstrations from other companies over the years, including most famously Boston Dynamics. And the linkage between FSD and Optimus is a tenuous one, at best.

The domain expertise, while reduced to a simple translation by Tesla’s presentation, is actually quite a complex one. Bipedal robots navigating pedestrian routes is a very different beast from autonomous vehicle routes, and oversimplifying the connection does a disservice to the immense existing body of research and development work on the subject.

Tesla’s presenters consistently transitioned relatively seamlessly between Optimus and its vehicles’ autonomous navigation capabilities. One of the key presenters for Optimus was Milan Kovac, the company’s Director of Autopilot Software Engineering, who handed off to fellow Autopilot director Ashok Elluswamy to dive further into Tesla vehicular Autopilot concerns.

It’s very clear that Tesla believes this is a linked challenge that will result in efficiencies the market will appreciate as it pursues both problems. The reality is that there remains a lot of convincing to do to actually articulate that the linkages are more than surface-deep.

Not to mention, Autopilot faces its own challenges in terms of public and regulatory skepticism and scrutiny. A robot you live with daily in close proximity doesn’t need that kind of potential risk.

Tesla may have turned its man-in-a-suite into a real robot with actual actuators and processors, but it still has a ways to go to make good on the promise that it’s a viable product with a sub-$20,000 price tag any of us will ever be able to purchase.

Tesla’s robot strategy is inextricably tied to its Autopilot strategy, for better or for worse by Darrell Etherington originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla fights US Senate campaign ad showing its EVs hitting child-sized mannequins

Dan O’Dowd, the California U.S. Senate candidate behind a controversial anti-Tesla ad, has pledged to continue airing the campaign despite receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the automaker.

O’Dowd’s call for a ban on Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software comes as the automaker enlists more than 100,000 drivers to begin beta tests on public streets, while defending itself from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into fatal crashes involving its precursor Autopilot system.

FSD, which Tesla said Tuesday will be offered as a $15,000 option, allows the car to perform certain traffic maneuvers without driver input but is not a fully self-driving system because it requires the driver to be ready to take over the vehicle at any time.

The 30-second commercial sponsored by the Dawn Project, a safety advocacy group founded by O’Dowd, shows a Tesla Model 3 striking four different child-sized mannequins while driving a test track at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California.

“This happens over and over again,” O’Dowd, who is also the CEO of Green Hills Software, a safety software maker and potential Tesla competitor, says in a voiceover. “A hundred thousand Tesla drivers are already using Full Self-Driving on public roads.”

Tesla accused the Dawn Project of depicting the “unsafe and improper use” of its FSD software and demanded the group remove the videos. CEO Elon Musk responded to critics on Twitter with trademark truculence.

The campaign ad sparked public scrutiny, as well as criticism from Tesla’s supporters, since its debut earlier this month. Some alleged that the Model 3 shown in the video was not engaged in FSD. At least one Tesla fan conducted a comparison test, showing the car stopping to avoid hitting both a child-sized mannequin and a real child. YouTube removed the video after it was flagged as harmful content.

“The purported tests misuse and misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology, and disregard widely recognized testing performed by independent agencies as well as the experiences shared by our customers,” Tesla deputy general counsel Dinna Eskin wrote in the August 11 letter.

The Dawn Project said in a statement that the June 21 footage from Willow Springs featured a 2019 Model 3 that was engaged in Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta 10.12.2 version.

O’Dowd said his campaign against Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software will run “until @ElonMusk proves it won’t mow down children.”

Tesla and the Dawn Project did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federal, state regulators put pressure on Tesla’s Autopilot safety

Tesla is coming under fire from federal and state regulators over both the safety and the capabilities of its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked Tesla on Thursday to answer questions about its cabin camera as part of an ongoing probe into 830,000 Tesla vehicles that include Autopilot. Tesla says the cabin camera is built with a driver monitoring system that can determine if a driver isn’t paying attention and send them noise alerts as a reminder to keep their eyes on the road while Autopilot is engaged.

After previously relying on a system that could detect when a driver’s hands were on the steering wheel, Tesla introduced its camera-based driver monitoring system in May last year.

The NHTSA probe also demanded information about how Tesla generates its quarterly safety reports, which a recent report from the Virginia Transportation Research Council found to be misleading.

Separately, in late July, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles accused Tesla of falsely advertising its Autopilot and so-called “full self-driving” (FSD) system, another more advanced ADAS that costs drivers an additional $12,000 for automated driving features like the parking feature Summon or Navigate on Autopilot, which navigates cars from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp.

Tesla responded Thursday by asking the California DMV for a hearing to present a defense against the claims that it misled prospective customers. According to the DMV’s process for dealing with accusations, Tesla is within its rights to request a hearing to defend itself. This might lead to a settlement discussion between the department and Tesla, after which the DMV will set a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings, according to a DMV spokesperson.

The increased heat on Tesla comes as NHTSA investigates 16 crashes in which Tesla owners were potentially engaging Autopilot and then crashed into stationary emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one fatality.

NHTSA’s nine-page letter demands that Tesla respond by September 19 to a variety of requests — like the role that Tesla’s cabin camera plays in enforcing driver engagement and detailed descriptions of how the automaker designed and engineered the system that enforces driver engagement and attentiveness, “including the evidence that justifies the period of time that the driver is permitted to have their hands off the steering wheel before receiving a warning…”.

NHTSA also asked Tesla to identify each lawsuit in the U.S. involving Tesla in which a party alleged that a motor vehicle crash was related to Autopilot, and to describe the process and methodology for Tesla’s vehicle safety reports.

Tesla has until October 12 to send detailed information from either the CAN logs or video/data clips regarding each incident vehicle on a separate list provided by NHTSA. The information NHTSA is looking for includes the amount of time Autopilot was engaged, the road class at the time of impact and data on both the system and the driver’s behavior just before impact.

NHTSA told TechCrunch it cannot comment on open investigations, but that the agency “routinely sends information request letters as part of its investigative process.”

The Station: Robotaxi roadblock and Tesla layoffs hit Autopilot team

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

Happy July 4th for all Americans, in the U.S. and abroad. On this independence day, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom of movement — this is after all a newsletter dedicated to mobility. I’m talking about the privileges and immunities clause in the U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1.

The fundamental right of movement, includes interstate travel. Consider reviewing the clause; I suspect it will get more attention in a post Roe v. Wade world.

Since this is a holiday weekend, I’ll keep this short and sweet. See you next week.

Oh, one item to flag. Our regular founder Q&A series went a bit further afield this week. Rebecca Bellan interviewed Fia Jones, who at 19 approached Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck at a party and told him she had an idea that would change the game for powering satellites. She’d be happy to tell him all about it … if he’d be willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Fia’s startup is Astrix Astronautics.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions, or tips. You also can send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec


Bird has been experiencing quite a bit of drama lately, what with the NYSE giving it a warning for trading at too low of a stock price and having to let go 23% of staff. This week, CEO Travis VanderZanden has stepped down from a role as president to be succeeded by Shane Torchiana, Bird’s COO. VanderZanden will maintain his position as CEO and chair of the board. 

Bo Mobility, a UK-based e-scooter manufacturer, recently launched a new scooter with a unibody frame that gives it a seamless, curvy appearance and a stable, smooth riding experience. The company was founded by ex-Formula One engineers, so it’s certainly got promise. 

The dawn of the electric micro-bike – like something between a scooter and a bike.

I have no idea if any of them are good, but targeted advertising has taught me that you can buy electric mototaxis wholesale off Alibaba

Gozem, a West African super app, has raised $10 million to expand its fleet of electric moto-taxis.

Global revenue from shared mobility, including car rentals, ride hailing and bike-share apps, are expected to generate an annual revenue of $660 billion in 2030, which is nearly 40% increase from revenue generated in 2020. 

Numan, a German-Indian startup, is using Audi-sourced second life batteries to bring electric rickshaws to India.

Populus was selected as the mobility management program for the new launch of Chicago’s permanent shared scooter program. The company will share vehicle and trip data with the city so it can manage vehicle caps, parking policies, equity zones, curb management solutions and more. In other Populus news, former Spin CEO Ben Bear has signed on as an advisor to the company.

Why e-bike companies need to give their vehicles USB-C charging.

The UK is extending shared scooter trials until May 2024!

Velotric, a mobility startup led by Lime’s hardware co-founder Adam Zhang, has launched its first e-bike, the Discover 1. It’s got a straight back riding posture so it’s comfortable to ride, a range of 60 miles on a single charge, a removable battery pack and it’s not too expensive – $1,399. 

 — Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

Every time I drive an EV on a long road trip — that is not a Tesla — I’m disappointed by the charging infrastructure in the United States. Maybe this deal will change that.

I’m talking about Volkswagen Group subsidiary Electrify America raising $450 million in a deal that includes its first external investor as it aims to accelerate its rollout of ultra-fast charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.

The deal, which values North America’s largest ultra-fast EV charging network at $2.45 billion, includes more than $100 million from German industrial company Siemens and additional capital from VW Group.

Other deals that got my attention …

Bykea, Pakistani bike ride-sharing and on-demand delivery startup, raised $10 million from existing backers Prosus Ventures, MEVP, Sarmayacar, Tharros and Ithaca Capital.

Clarios International, a low-voltage vehicle battery manufacturer based in Wisconsin, revived its IPO. The company disclosed plans to raise up to $100 million. Renaissance Capital notes this is likely a placeholder for a deal and estimates the company could raise up to $1 billion.

Mottu, a São Paulo-based motorcycle rental startup, raised $30 million in equity in a Series B round of funding. The company also secured $10 million in debt financing.

Paragon ID, a provider of identification solutions for e-ID, transport and smart cities, traceability, brand protection and payment, acquired UrbanThings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Tenet, a drive now, pay later fintech startup focused on EV auto loans, raised $18 million in a seed round led by San Francisco-based Human Capital and London’s Giant Ventures.

Zipp Mobility raised a $6.1 million Series A to expand beyond Ireland into Europe.

Notable reads and other tidbits

Advanced driver assistance systems

Tesla gutted the data annotation team working on Autopilot, laying off nearly 200 employees and shutting down the San Mateo, California office where they worked.

Autonomous vehicles

Cruise robotaxis stopped operating and sat in a street in San Francisco late Tuesday night, blocking traffic for a couple of hours until employees arrived and manually moved the autonomous vehicles.

Aurora, Luminar, UPS and Waymo are among a group of 34 autonomous vehicle developers, California business organizations, and automotive and logistics companies that signed an open letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to revisit the California Department of Motor Vehicles’s 2015 prohibition on the operation of autonomous trucks in the state.

Waymo’s most serious crash to date (which was not its fault) and that involved a self-driving truck might have resulted in only moderate injuries, but it exposed how unprepared local government and law enforcement are to deal with the new technology.

Waymo announced a partnership with JB Hunt to deliver goods for its customer Wayfair in a pilot program.

Electric vehicles & batteries

CATL, a battery behemoth in China, might not be a household name. But it should be. Check out this feature on CATL and the man who runs it.

Cadillac is reportedly pricing the Celestiq, the brand’s halo EV set to debut during Monterey Car Week in August, around $300,000. TechCrunch looks at Cadillac’s large-scale ambitions for this small-batch car.

Canoo might be facing more problems, this time on the factory side of things. Tulsa World reports that plans by Canoo to build a production plant at Mid-America Industrial Park may be delayed by unfavorable economic conditions.

Drako Motors, an EV startup, released details on its 2,000-horsepower Drako Dragon Super-SUV.

Hyundai previewed the IONIQ 6 sedan, the heavily-anticipated follow-up to the brand’s popular first battery-electric model, the IONIQ 5 SUV. The automaker won’t announce details such as the IONIQ 6’s price range and production run size until the vehicle’s world premiere in July.

J.D. Power released its U.S. Initial Quality Study and found that  battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have more problems than the average car.

LFP batteries: An older, cheaper and safer battery technology already dominating China’s electric vehicle industry is now poised to reshape battery manufacturing worldwide and boost EV sales in the United States, Jaclyn Trop reports in this TC+ deep dive.

Nikola adjourned its annual meeting to July 18, giving the company time to lobby shareholders to pass a money-raising measure to issue more shares of common stock.

Rivian opened its first three EV fast charging sites in California and Colorado as part of the automaker’s bid to build out an “adventure” network along interstates as well as locations near recreational activities aligned with its customer base

Tesla delivered 254,695 electric vehicles globally in the second quarter, a nearly 18% drop from the previous period as supply chain constraints, China’s extended COVID-19 lockdown and challenges around opening factories in Berlin and Austin took their toll on the company. The QoQ drop is the first in two years.

Volkswagen Group unveiled its ID. AERO concept in China, which is mean to serve as the inspiration behind the automaker’s flagship EV, and first-ever global all-electric sedan, next year.

In-car tech

BMW Group tapped Valeo to provide the advanced driver assistance system for the automaker’s new electric vehicle platform due to launch in 2025.

Updates to a right to repair law in Massachusetts prompted automakers represented by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to file a lawsuit. The outcome has been delayed yet again. A federal judge postponed a decision this past week — the third time since March that the long-awaited ruling has been delayed.


Activist investors are shouting for the Securities and Exchange Commission to intervene in Tesla’s shrinking board.

Hyzon Motors appointed Shawn Yadon president of commerical. He will be responsible for the commercialization of the North American market while supporting Hyzon’s strategic position of the production and sales of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory who accused the company of racial discrimination, will once again face off against the automaker in court.

Volta, the EV charging network, appointed Yifan Tang as Chief Technology Officer.

Woven Planet Holdings, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor, hired John Absmeier as chief technology officer, effective July 25, 2022. He will report to Woven Planet CEO James Kuffner.


Tesla lays off nearly 200 Autopilot workers, shutters San Mateo office

Tesla has gutted the data annotation team working on Autopilot, laying off nearly 200 employees and shutting down the San Mateo, California office where they worked. The layoffs, first reported by Bloomberg, have been confirmed by sources who talked to TechCrunch on condition of anonymity.

The cuts come amid a broader reduction of jobs at Tesla. However, these layoffs targeted personnel once deemed critical to the company’s Autopilot advanced driver assistance system and more notably efforts by CEO Elon Musk to further develop automated driving functions through the $12,000 optional FSD system.

Until today, Tesla had hundreds of data annotation employees working on the Autopilot team in San Mateo and Buffalo, New York. The San Mateo office had a headcount of 276, and after laying off 195 staffers from all ranks — supervisors, labelers and data analysts — the team is left with 81 workers, who sources say will be relocated to another office.

Most of the workers were in moderately low-skilled, low-wage jobs, such as Autopilot data labeling, which involves determining if Tesla’s algorithm identified an object well or poorly, according to one source.

The source noted layoffs of this team were rumored to be on the table for months, and that the work would be offloaded to Buffalo.

Based on data from Glassdoor, jobs like data annotation specialists or data analysts at Tesla pay less in Buffalo than in San Mateo. It’s unclear if Tesla is shifting workers to the New York office to reduce costs or as a strategy to become eligible for New York State’s many job incentives, like the New York Youth Jobs program tax credit or the credit for employment of persons with disabilities.

That said, it likely won’t be a 1:1 replacement in Buffalo, where sources say Tesla will probably just inundate the existing team, “as is the Tesla way. Act now, deal with the consequences later.”

If Tesla is indeed not going to be hiring more data labelers and others to work on Autopilot — which the company has said is a vital ingredient for training deep neural networks that can help improve the full self-driving beta software — then what will happen to that technology? Perhaps Tesla will change course on its vision-only approach to autonomy and start introducing lidar and radar to its vehicles.

Layoffs or terminations?

While sources confirm the 195 Autopilot team members who were let go Tuesday were indeed laid off, they also say most of the “layoffs” that began in the end of May were, in reality, terminations based on performance.

Terminating employees based on performance allows any company the chance to avoid going through certain legal requirements like the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs.

Indeed, last week, two former Tesla employees filed a lawsuit against the automaker alleging the company did not provide the 60 days of advance notice required by federal law during its recent round of layoffs.

There is also a class action lawsuit being carried out against Tesla that sources say recruits more spurned workers everyday.

Tesla stock is down 5% on Tuesday in after-hours trading.