Is Tesla Forcing Its Luck With FSD Beta or Pushing the NHTSA for an Excuse?


The promises kept being repeated with new deadlines while the company removed radars from its cars. On top of that, it started developing new hardware that will “finally” make autonomous vehicles possible – which means the previous ones will lack it. In such a chaotic environment, why would Tesla force its luck with regulators by pushing FSD (Full Self-Driving) more aggressively into “beta testers?” It may have to do with finding a good excuse not to deliver.

The first impression the entire situation gives is that Tesla accelerated things after NHTSA started investigating why Autopilot fails to detect emergency vehicles, crashing multiple times against them. The company said it had fixed that, but it now has to prove that this is really the case. At the same time, public scrutiny is at higher levels than ever after all the videos showing FSD Beta heading toward pedestrians, bicyclists, obstacles, and other road users. Summing up, Tesla would be speeding up its tests with customers while it can, but Conor Dalton gave us an enlightening perspective about that.

In a recent tweet, the Snow Bull Capital analyst shared a hypothesis that makes a lot of sense: Tesla could be pushing for regulations to happen. After trying to deliver FSD for so many years, promising it was always around the corner, the company may have realized autonomous driving is still years away. It could just bluntly admit it if it had not sold that promise in advance for up to $10,000 apiece to thousands of customers. Unable to hand them what they paid for, the company needs a scapegoat.

As Dalton mentioned, a regulatory delay would “play in Tesla’s favor.” It would make it seem that Tesla is not to blame if it fails to deliver what its beta software promises: Full Self-Driving. It would be the government killing innovation, as Sandy Munro recently said that was the case. The company could point fingers at the president “controlled by unions,” as Musk referred to Joe Biden at the Code Conference on September 28.

According to Business Insider, this was his third strike against the POTUS just in September. For a company that pledged to open its Supercharging network to other EVs just to win government subsidies, that sort of attitude seems extremely risky. If you consider that the U.S. Congress is now discussing the H.R. 3684 – Invest in America Act, it looks just plain stupid. However, Musk is anything but an idiot: check if he has ever criticized Xi Jinping or the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).

Forcing the U.S. government to take measures makes all attitudes Musk and Tesla are taking finally fit together: it changes the perspective on these actions. Instead of being a desperate attempt to seize a window of opportunity that will close when Tesla is framed for “testing” Level 4 technology on public roads – despite claiming it is Level 2 – they turn into calculated measures that will set Tesla free from its own promises.

The only person able to confirm if that is the case is Elon Musk. Given the circumstances, he would not confess any such plan even if he could. For Biden, it may become an automotive Afghanistan: regulating what Tesla does with its beta software is a decision that has to be made. It should have been taken years ago, but nobody did that. NHTSA is frequently accused of being too permissive for failing to do so. For the U.S. government, it will be a matter of choosing the lesser evil.

Tesla and Musk will win either way. If they can keep testing the software, they will always be able to blame the drivers that did not respect the legal disclaimers for overreliance on the system. At least three people already died with Autopilot because of that. If the government blocks these tests and treats them as Level 4 endeavors, with the regulations they have to respect, they’ll get to blame it for stopping progress.

Unfortunately for those paying $10,000 for the promise of a robotaxi, other people on the roads have nothing to do with that. They have not accepted to be part of Tesla’s experiments. Protecting these lives despite taking the blame for “harming” an innovative company is the obvious choice. However, so was preventing Tesla from testing beta software on public roads with common, untrained customers since it started doing that in October 2015. It is already too late to do something without displeasing part of the voters.

It gives them a scapegoat and an excuse for why they will not reach autonomy with their current hw suite.

— Conor Dalton (@conor__dalton) September 29, 2021