A lawsuit against Tesla Motors claims the automaker hasn’t lived up to promises to improve the Autopilot feature on its Model S even after charging thousands of dollars for enhancements.

The large, all-electric luxury sedan is advertised as having Autopilot capabilities, which is a suite of driver-assist technologies that enables a Tesla vehicle to steer itself while adjusting speed according to traffic conditions and automatically changing lanes.

Tesla warns its customers that the system isn’t a fully capable self-driving system, and that the driver must take responsibility for the safety of the vehicle.

The lawsuit alleges most of the system’s standard safety features remain inoperative months after customers have taken delivery.

“The Enhanced Autopilot capabilities that consumers paid $5,000 extra to obtain are anything but ‘safer’ and ‘stress free,’” the lawsuit states. “Many owners report the Autopilot is essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous.”


In a statement, Tesla called the lawsuit a "disingenuous attempt to secure attorney's fees posing as a legitimate legal action."

Many safety features the suit claims are not available actually are available, Tesla said. Nor has there been any promise that current cars have "full self-driving capability." Tesla says it has been up front with its customers that "it is not possible to know exactly when each element of functionality" will become available.

"The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of our technology put forth by this group is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety," Tesla said.

Last year, Tesla introduced the upgrade of “Enhanced Auto Pilot,” touting that new models would have all of the hardware necessary for fully automated driving, pending the development of software and approval by regulators. These vehicles were sold without some formerly standard safety features enabled, like automatic emergency braking. Tesla promised to activate the features incrementally through over-the-air software updates.

The lawsuit cites three consumers who paid prices ranging from $81,000 to $113,000, with $5,000 premiums for Enhanced Auto Pilot, believing that safety features would be added soon after their purchases in late 2016.

One plaintiff, Dean Sheikh of Denver, has been “directly harmed” because he paid for a vehicle that “was advertised to have standard safety features that the vehicle does not have,” the lawsuit says. Sheikh also paid a premium for an Enhanced Autopilot system that “does not operate as advertised and is unsafe to use.”

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a Seattle-based law firm. Plaintiffs are seeking class-action status.