This might not be the right forum, but I’m curious if anyone has done a semi-academic study of the legal and financial exposure to Tesla and perhaps Elon himself if the FSD continues to push? I understand that is a complicated question because Tesla itself isn’t overly forthcoming and the reasons for pushing could vary wildly from bugs to government intervention.
I’m often chastised by other owners for taking a serious rather than optimistic view on the company, but it seems to me that the FSD presales constitute a contractual obligation for a specific set of features and that at some point the failure to deliver on those promises is a breach of contract subject to not just refunds, but perhaps penalties and other legal action.
I bring this up because I’ve spent the last two days in heated debate over Ford’s “vaporware” comment with others in the community that take a more optimistic (perhaps apologetic) view point and it concerns me deeply that the ongoing delays are no longer just a customer service issue and matter of irritation for those of us early adopters, but perhaps a very real liability and risk to the company. It also seems lie an opportunity for competitors (I’m thinking more GM than Ford) to sling mud and make it stick, putting brand trustworthiness in the market in jeopardy.
I welcome all honest and thoughtful comments. Thank you.
Updates: I’m updating here rather than inline to provide additional questions in an easy to find location.
I’ve seen a lot of arguments here and other places that Tesla has no exposure legally due to the purchase contract wording. I assert this is patently false. While Elon’s public tweets don’t have the same legal weight as original contracts, as head of the company he has legal obligations to conduct himself as an honest representative of the company in both a marketing and a shareholder fiduciary level .
Second, it is well documented that the original ordering forms (I’m thinking in the 2019 time frame) included very specific verbiage about both the capabilities of FSD and the time frame for delivery. You can quibble about the what part of that, but not the when. While there is no specific timeline on the contracts, the fact that the software is not transferable actually works against them legally because there is established law that puts limits on open-ended obligations (I’m looking into the exact statutes). To my way of thinking, the limits here are changes of ownership and the reasonable service life of the vehicle. Tesla could perhaps render this moot by allowing transfers.
Regarding the financial liability, it seems that it has been established that Tesla does carry the full value of the sales as a future liability on the books, but that just means they acknowledge it as a risk, not that the money is actually escrowed somewhere to pay it. I don’t think the actual numbers here are public knowledge (prove me wrong if you can find this), but it seems like it would be a large and potentially impactful number if it had to actually be produced.