This is not good news for Tesla.

Full Self-Doubt

The Department of Justice is widening its probe into Tesla as it seeks to figure out whether the Elon Musk-owned company made fraudulent claims about its self-driving capabilities.

As Reuters reports, three sources familiar with the matter say that the DOJ's investigation, first reported back in 2022, is eyeing securities and wire fraud as it looks at comments Musk and other Tesla executives made about its so-called "Autopilot" and "Full Self-Driving" (FSD) modes.

The sources didn't specify which exact comments the Justice Department was scrutinizing. But over the years, Tesla has repeatedly gotten in trouble over its assisted-driving features, which critics and some regulators say dangerously mislead drivers into thinking their cars can drive themselves.

Although not meant to be fully autonomous, both of Tesla's assisted driving modes have also come under regulatory scrutiny in recent years as the accident and death tolls associated with the company's self-driving efforts climb higher and higher.

Reroute and Recall

News of the DOJ honing in on specific criminal liabilities in its ongoing probe comes just a few days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) demanded more information from Tesla about Autopilot-related crashes.

In December, Tesla was forced to recall, via software patch, more than two million of its Autopilot-enabled electric vehicles after the NHTSA said the company didn't do enough to ensure drivers were paying attention when using it. After the recall, however, an additional 20 crashes occurred, leading to the agency to open an investigation into the recall itself as it issued a damning report about crashes that occurred when drivers were using Tesla's assisted-driving software.

In a letter sent to the EV maker on Monday, the agency requested that Tesla explain its recall protocols and demanded more information about how many miles per week were driven using assisted driving, how often drivers were warned to put their hands on the wheel, and how often drivers had been given "strikes" or temporary Autopilot suspensions for failing to adhere to safety warnings.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in its reporting on the NHTSA demand earlier this week, several other agencies are also investigating Tesla, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has for nearly six years been looking into whether the company committed securities and wire fraud when Musk stupidly tweeted that he was going to take the company public at $420 a share.

More on Tesla: Self-Driving Tesla Almost Crashes Head-on Into Police Car

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