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Will Elon Musk’s Latest Tweet Get Him in Trouble?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is no stranger to bold claims.  During its recent Tesla Autonomy Investor Day, Musk said that Tesla would be ready to roll out a robotaxi fleet next year, but today, he claimed an even more impressive goal: he sees the Tesla self-driving cross-country road trip happening by the end of this year.

It seems prudent these days to take Elon Musk’s tweets with a grain of salt.  Sometimes he misses the mark, sometimes the things he says just are not true, and sometimes his words trigger the sort of financial disturbance that manages to upset the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Possible Violation of SEC Settlement?

As anyone who keeps track of Tesla news is aware of, the newest SEC settlement requires Musk to obtain permission before posting any financially sensitive information on social media.  Did this tweet violate any of these rules?

According to Alex Guberman, the host of E for Electric, he just may have.  He believes that forecasting that all cars with the self-driving feature would be able to complete this journey autonomously is an unreasonable blanket statement that could have a potential financial impact in the stock market.  And this kind of hype may not please the SEC, which could, in turn, cause further friction between the two. 

Tesla Cross-Country Road Trip Still Some Ways Off

SEC violation or not, Musk’s forecast that ‘everyone with Tesla Full Self-Driving’ will be able to travel from LA to NY autonomously seems a bit premature, perhaps even impossible.  In order to cross the country, one has to enter a lot of different states, and each state would have to have regulations in place to make self-driving legal first.  That is a lot of legislation to have in place by the end of the year. 

We also have the issue that the Full Self-Driving computer, previously known as Autopilot Hardware 3.0, has only recently come into production.  New cars will be issued with them, yes, but older cars will have to be retrofitted before having this capability.  Plus there is the fact that Autopilot still has trouble recognizing stationary vehicles, does not stop for stop signs and red lights, and requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.  It seems like a bit of a jump to go from the vehicles’ current capability to crossing the country by themselves. 

It is still uncertain what part the driver will play during this prospective drive.  It could be that the driver never touches the wheel while on the road but still parks and charges the car, for example.  Or it could be that the car acts completely on its own, and the driver is inside only for regulatory purposes.  Musk predicted the latter in 2016, saying that owners could expect to summon their car to pick them up on the other side of the country, even going as far as to recharge itself, by 2018. 

Sadly we are still waiting on that.

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