Consumer Reports slammed Tesla's controversial Smart Summon feature, saying it sometimes acted like a drunk driver

YouTube/TeslaTesla’s Smart Summon feature.
  • Consumer Reports said Tesla‘s Smart Summon feature worked inconsistently and questioned the benefits owners receive from it in a review published on Tuesday.
  • Smart Summon allows a vehicle to drive to its owner in a parking lot or driveway.
  • Consumer Reports found that the feature would at times stop or deactivate without having a clear reason to do so, steer erratically “like a drunken or distracted driver,” and at one point drive in the wrong direction down a one-way lane.
  • Smart Summon did work as intended in some circumstances, Consumer Reports said, and drove conservatively, which the publication said had positive implications for safety.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Consumer Reports said Tesla‘s Smart Summon feature worked inconsistently and questioned the benefits owners receive from it in a review published on Tuesday.

The publication found that the feature, which allows a vehicle to drive to its owner in a parking lot or driveway, would appear at times to be confused by its environment, stopping or deactivating without having a clear reason to do so. Sometimes, the feature directed the publication’s Model 3 sedan to drive in the middle of a lane in a parking lot, rather than on the side of the lane closest to the parked cars, or steer erratically, “like a drunken or distracted driver.” At one point, Smart Summon directed the Model 3 to drive in the wrong direction down a one-way lane.

Smart Summon did work as intended in some circumstances, Consumer Reports said, and drove conservatively, which the publication said had positive implications for safety.


Read more:
I drove the Tesla Model 3 for 2 days and used its most controversial feature – here’s why it made me nervous

Tesla did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Consumer Reports, the publication said. The electric-car maker also did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Tesla began to roll out Smart Summon as part of a software update at the end of September. Some Tesla owners have expressed excitement about the feature’s performance, while others have posted videos showing the feature malfunctioning. Regulators have taken notice, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said it is looking into the feature and communicating with Tesla.

“Safety is NHTSA’s top priority and the agency will not hesitate to act if it finds evidence of a safety-related defect,” a NHTSA representative said last week.


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Tesla has attracted controversy over the ways it has marketed and discussed self-driving technology. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, has said the company will have autonomous-driving technology that requires no human intervention ready by the end of next year, a more aggressive timeline than those announced or suggested by other auto or tech companies.

Musk has also ignored Tesla’s guidelines for customers when using its Autopilot feature – which can control steering, accelerating, and braking in some circumstances, but requires the driver to keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road – on television.

Read Consumer Reports’ full review here.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at [email protected]. You can ask for more secure methods of communication, like Signal or ProtonMail, by email or Twitter direct-message.

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