Tesla joins Volvo and Mercedes in walking back ‘self-driving’ terminology

tesla germany autopilots ads autopilot display 1500x954
If you call a car “self-driving,” people expect it can drive itself — despite warnings to the contrary. That lesson was underscored for Tesla in China after an Autopilot accident this month. As a result, Tesla is changing its Chinese website and bumping up training for Tesla Chinese staff, according to Reuters.

A Tesla driver driving with Autopilot mode engaged in Beijing crashed into a car partially parked on the left side of the highway. Tesla said it did not detect — from data continuously transmitted from the car — that the driver had both hands on the wheel at the time of the crash. Chinese law requires drivers keep two hands on the steering wheel at all times.

Tesla has maintained all along that Autopilot is not a self-driving mode and has warnings to that effect in the manual and in the vehicle when Autopilot is engaged. Previously there appeared on the automaker’s Chinese website the term “zidong jiashi,” which literally translates to “self-driving,” although it also means “autopilot,” and the term “autopilot” also appeared several times, Reuters reported. Late Sunday the words were removed and replaced by a term that translates to “self-assisted driving.”

A Tesla spokesperson emailed a statement to Reuters that said, “At Tesla we are continuously making improvements including to translation. 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.”

A Tesla employee not authorized to speak to media told Reuters that Tesla’s China staff have received additional training following the August second crash. The company re-emphasized that employees demonstrating the autopilot function must keep both hands on the wheel. Tesla drivers told Reuters the opposite had been the case, that Tesla sales personnel took their hands off the wheel to demonstrate the function.

Automakers are cautious following a fatality in May 2016 involving a Tesla driver using Autopilot mode. That incident touched off worldwide scrutiny. Last month Mercedes-Benz pulled a TV commercial for the 2017 E300 that showed a driver lifting both hands off the wheel after consumer complaints.

Just last week Volvo clarified a tweet that mentioned the Volvo S90’s “self-driving Pilot Assist.” Volvo spokesperson Russel Datz said the use of the term “self-driving” was an error, according to Electrek.

It may be a sign of how much consumers want truly self-driving cars that many assume vehicles have capabilities beyond the current state of technology. If carmakers even hint that their cars can drive themselves, consumer expectations quickly exceed reality. Automakers as a result are getting a wake-up call about precise terminology and controlling expectations.

Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Cars

Model X owner claims confused Autopilot causes crash; Tesla rejects blame

The driver of a Tesla Model X told New Jersey police he veered off the road and crashed after the Autopilot system malfunctioned. He wasn't hurt or charged, but the crossover sustained significant damage. Tesla denies the claims.
Mobile

Buying a Galaxy S10? Here's how to sell your old Galaxy phone

If you’re preparing to upgrade to a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10 Plus, then you will want to turn your old Galaxy into cash. Follow our guide on how to sell your old Samsung Galaxy for the best results.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.