Musk faces SEC probe for role in Tesla self-driving claims, report says
It couldn’t be determined specifically which of Musk’s statements or activities about Autopilot have garnered the attention of the SEC.
Tesla’s driver-assistance technology has for years been a focus of Musk. He personally directed the creation of a 2016 video that may have exaggerated the technology’s capabilities. The video’s promises of eventual fully autonomous, hands-free driving functionality have yet to materialize.
In a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Musk’s thinking about the Autopilot video, he told Tesla staff in internal emails in 2016, “I will be telling the world that this is what the car *will* be able to do.” Musk continued, “not that it can do this upon receipt.”
Tesla beats out its competitors on self-driving vehicles because “the car is upgradeable to autonomy,” Musk said during a Twitter Spaces conversation in December. “That’s something that no other car company can do,” he added.
Separately, Tesla is also facing scrutiny from safety watchdogs over its advanced driver-assistance systems and is poised for its first jury trial over a driver fatality blamed on Autopilot. The U.S. Justice Department also has been looking into whether the electric-car maker’s public comments about the feature have been misleading.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has two active investigations into whether Autopilot is defective. The agency upgraded the first — focused on how Tesla Autopilot handles crash scenes with first-responder vehicles — in June of last year. It initiated the other probe — pertaining to sudden braking — four months earlier.
The Tesla CEO has been for years fighting the SEC over fallout from his infamous tweet that he had secured funding to take Tesla private.
He defended that 2018 missive this week in court in San Francisco where investors have alleged that he committed securities fraud. Musk said he believed at the time that he had financial backing from wealthy investors and the Saudi government.
Tesla shares rose 12 percent to $179.13 just before the market close in New York on Friday — extending its rise this year to 46 percent amid optimism the worst is over for the electric-vehicle maker. The stock fell 65 percent last year, partly fueled by concern that Musk would be distracted by his purchase of Twitter Inc. Musk is worth $155.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
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