Tesla Removes The Words “Autopilot” & “Self-Driving” From China Website

After a crash involving a Tesla driver in Beijing who said he took his hands off the steering wheel while the car was in “Autopilot mode,” the company says it’s removed that word and a Chinese term that means “self-driving” from its China website.

Tesla says the driver is to blame for taking his hands off the wheel, causing him to crash his car into the side of a vehicle that was partially parked in the road, while the driver said he was misled about the Autopilot feature. He says Tesla sold him on Autopilot as a feature that would do much of the driving for him.

The company has now changed references to autopilot and the term “zidong jiashi”, which translates as self-driving as well as autopilot, Reuters reports, removing them from the webpage for the Model S sedan. Those terms were both used a few times on the site, Reuters notes.

“At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations,” a Tesla spokeswoman told Reuters in an emailed statement. “We’ve been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks. Timing had nothing to do with current events or articles.”

Tesla has been under increased scrutiny this summer over the Autopilot feature, following a fatal collision in Florida. It’s since been confirmed that while the driver was going around 10 miles per hour over the speed limit at the time, the Autopilot feature was engaged.

The car maker said in July that it would not disable Autopilot, but a number of consumer safety advocates — including our colleagues at Consumer Reports — have called Tesla out for the potentially confusing messages surrounding the Autopilot feature.

“By marketing their feature as ‘Autopilot,’ Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security,” said Laura MacCleery, vice president of consumer policy and mobilization for Consumer Reports, which has said that Tesla should disable the autosteering aspect of Autopilot until it is updated to require the driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel. “‘Autopilot’ can’t actually drive the car, yet it allows consumers to have their hands off the steering wheel for minutes at a time.”
Tesla removes ‘autopilot’ from China website after Beijing crash [Reuters]