Tesla shares took another hit amid safety concerns over its updated automatic lane-changing feature for its Autopilot software.
Consumer Reports said Wednesday that Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot feature is far less competent than a human driver after testing the update.
In practice, according to Consumer Reports, several law enforcement representatives found that Navigate on Autopilot "cut off cars without leaving enough space and even passed other cars in ways that violate state laws."
"The system's role should be to help the driver, but the way this technology is deployed, it's the other way around," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' senior director of auto testing, in a statement. "It's incredibly nearsighted. It doesn't appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can't anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it."
Tesla shares fell 6 percent to close at $192.73 on Wednesday.
Tesla introduced the update to its Navigate on Autopilot feature in April, calling it a "more seamless active guidance experience," as part of a promised upgrade to its package of driver-assist features. Drivers activate the updated feature by giving it permission to make automatic lane changes. The automatic feature is canceled when drivers use the turn-signal stalk, brake or hold the steering wheel in place.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported Thursday that Tesla's Autopilot has been engaged in at least three fatal U.S. crashes.
The safety board's preliminary report for a fatal March 1 crash of a 2018 Model 3 in Delray Beach, Fla., stated that the driver engaged Autopilot about 10 seconds before crashing into a semitrailer, and the system did not detect the driver's hands on the wheel for less than eight seconds before the crash.
Tesla's sign of times
Tesla reduced the prices of the Model S and Model X on Monday, adding further question to whether CEO Elon Musk's bold vision to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy is more than wishful thinking.
According to the Associated Press, Tesla cut the price of the Model S sedan by $3,000 and the Model X crossover by $2,000.
AP reported that Tesla said in a statement that it periodically adjusts prices and available options like other car companies do. Tesla also said the decreases offset price increases from a month ago when it offered longer battery range and added a new drive system and suspension, AP said.
It's unclear whether dwindling sales impacted the vehicles' price cuts.
Tesla did not respond for a request to comment.
Tesla critic in court
Bloomberg reported that California State Judge Jeffrey Brand postponed a decision on whether to keep a restraining order in place against an online critic of Tesla and Musk until July 26.
Randeep Hothi, 32, had been ordered to stay away from the company's offices and test vehicles after being reported to police as striking a security guard with his car while exiting Tesla's headquarters. He has denied the accusations. The restraining order was due to expire Tuesday.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.