The U.S. Department of Justice has issued subpoenas and sought documents from Tesla in its ongoing look into the company’s Autopilot/full self driving driver assistance system, a report by Reuters Monday revealed. The investigation is also looking at vehicle range and “other issues”, the report says.
The revelation comes from language in Tesla’s latest 10-Q filing which states: “Separately, the Company has received requests for information, including subpoenas, from the DOJ. These have included requests for documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features.”
“Additionally, the Company has received requests for information, including subpoenas from the DOJ, regarding certain matters associated with personal benefits, related parties, vehicle range and personnel decisions,” the Form 10-Q also says.
In September we noted that the DOJ was looking into Elon Musk personally, per reporting by the Wall Street Journal, who said at the time that “prosecutors are scrutinizing personal benefits Tesla may have provided Elon Musk since 2017 – longer than previously known – as part of a criminal investigation”.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York also has sought information about transactions between Tesla and other entities connected to the billionaire,” the Journal also wrote in September.
Back in August, one month prior, it was reported that the DOJ and SEC were looking into whether or not Tesla used company funds on a “secret project” described as a “house” for CEO Elon Musk. That report, also by WSJ, noted that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was looking into a “spacious glass structure” potentially to be built in the Austin, Texas area.
In July, just one month before that revelation, we reported that the State of California’s Attorney General Office was joining the party of regulators looking into Tesla, probing the company’s Autopilot safety and marketing, according to CNBC, who said the office is “seeking information from customers and previous employees about Autopilot safety issues and false advertising complaints”.
Finally, back in October 2022 we noted that Tesla was under criminal investigation for claims that its cars can drive themselves. The DOJ reportedly launched an investigation into the company in 2021 after more than a dozen crashes took place involving Autopilot.
According to Reuters, the DOJ investigation “potentially represents a more serious level of scrutiny because of the possibility of criminal charges against the company or individual executives, the people familiar with the inquiry said.”
Washington and San Francisco DOJ prosecutors are looking at whether or not the company misled consumers with its claims of Autopilot and Full Self-Driving’s capabilities. All options are still on the table with regard to the investigation, Reuters noted late last year: “Officials conducting their inquiry could ultimately pursue criminal charges, seek civil sanctions or close the probe without taking any action, they said.”
And the DOJ investigation in Autopilot appears to be yielding to additional DOJ investigations into the company, the report says:
The Justice Department’s Autopilot probe is far from recommending any action partly because it is competing with two other DOJ investigations involving Tesla, one of the sources said. Investigators still have much work to do and no decision on charges is imminent, this source said.
Which would explain the subpoenas…