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Misleading Brand Names and Their Deadly Consequences

What's in a name?

In May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk used the word transformative in describing his company’s autonomous driving technology. The Tesla CEO believes that being on the cutting edge will make the auto-manufacturer an enterprise worth approximately $500 billion.

The timing was strange. One day before the pitch, a driver of a Tesla Model 3 driver was killed when his car careened into the side of a semi-truck crossing a Florida highway. A subsequent investigation revealed that the driver engaged AutoPilot at the time of the accident. Even worse, his hands were off the wheel for mere seconds before the crash occurred.

Product manufacturers conduct extensive research and testing when it comes to just the right name for a product that they want to introduce to the marketplace.

As if Tesla Inc. needed any more controversy surrounding their automated-driving systems. In their zeal for a memorable brand name, they are misleading their prospective customers.

The Insurance Insitute for Highway Safety conducted a study where respondents were asked about specific terminology. Nearly fifty percent considered the Autopilot feature as a chance to take their hands off the wheel, much like a pilot flying an airplane would do. Tragically, others already made that assumption, resulting in multiple fatal collisions for nearly three years.

The motor vehicle manual clearly states that the steering feature is “hands-on.” Not everyone is receiving that message.

Consumer Reports have already taken issue with the term Autopilot three years ago after a fatal car accident in Florida. They want Tesla to create a name that was understandable and reflected the technology. Hearing nothing from a company who is not taking action, they requested an investigation by the  U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to identify any defects and address all safety concerns.

Driver assistance, not driver replacement.

In its survey, IIHS asked 2,000 drivers what maneuvers they consider to be safe while using driver-assist technologies, using names companies have given their systems. The nonprofit didn’t tell participants in the survey the vehicle brands associated with each name and weren’t given information about the systems.

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