Owners of Tesla Model S and Model X cars who alleged the Autopilot system in their vehicles was “essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous” have settled a class-action lawsuit with the California automaker.
According to Reuters, Tesla agreed to allocate $5 million to a settlement fund that will partially compensate Model S and Model X owners who file a claim for the allegedly worthless feature.
Owners of the vehicles claimed they spent an extra $5,000 to have their vehicles equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot system, which the company claimed on its website would make driving safer with capabilities such as automated emergency braking and side collision warning. These features, however, were “completely inoperable,” the plaintiffs claimed, according to Reuters.
In a statement about the settlement, Tesla said its Autopilot functionality, which it introduced in October 2016, continues to improve but added the system was taking longer than expected to develop. The company said it planned to introduce a series of software updates this year that would enhance the performance of its Autopilot system.
“That said, as time passed since we first unveiled Hardware 2, it eventually became clear that it was taking us longer to roll out these features than we would have liked or initially expected,” the Tesla statement said. “We want to do right by those customers, so as part of a proposed settlement agreement for a class action lawsuit filed last year, we’ve agreed to compensate customers who purchased Autopilot on Hardware 2 vehicles who had to wait longer than we expected for these features.”
The settlement comes in the wake of two recent deadly crashes that put Tesla’s Autopilot system under intense scrutiny. The last deadly crash, which killed a California man when his Model X slammed into a highway barrier, remains under investigation.
Six Tesla Model S and Model X owners from California, Colorado, Florida, and New Jersey filed the lawsuit last year in San Jose federal court, alleging Tesla had engaged in fraud by concealment in addition to violating various state consumer protection and unfair competition laws, Reuters reported.
The May 31 settlement is pending approval by U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman.