If someone is “Mr. Tesla” these days, it’s obviously Elon Musk. But at some point, the nickname went to Martin Eberhard, who co-founded the electric vehicle maker in 2003. Eberhard led Tesla Motors as CEO before Musk hired him dropped off in 2007.
Eberhard isn’t a big supporter of autonomous driving — and he’s concerned about Musk’s focus on it. In an interview published today by Insider, he suggested it could be dangerous.
On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Tesla will recall more than 360,000 vehicles equipped with its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software due to apparent crash risks. (Musk is going to work with it the word “recall” because the required fixes are done through an over-the-air software update rather than at service centers.)
Eberhard commented on Tesla’s early days, “all that FSD autonomous, autopilot nonsense – none of that existed when I was there. We were still trying to get the car working and we never thought about it. That came later. That requires a much, much bigger budget than we had.”
Musk has prioritized it. Last summer, in an interview with the YouTube channel “Tesla Owners Silicon Valley,” he said that achieving self-driving technology is the “difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or being worth essentially zero.”
Musk said FSD mode was key to making Teslas attractive enough for the automaker to challenge entrenched automakers.
Eberhard thinks otherwise. “In my opinion, we need to get out of the habit of thinking of all this autonomous stuff as connected to EVs,” he told Insider. He said he appreciates “safety-focused systems” such as the driver assistance features that come with Teslas today.
It’s the autonomous driving that bothers him. The FSD feature requires drivers to keep an eye on it, but it allows Teslas to automatically park, enter freeways, change lanes and stop at traffic lights.
“I think the technology is far too immature to be on the road,” Eberhard said. “I mean, this is my cautious nature, but I would have had a really hard time putting software with a bug like that on the road.”
Eberhard is not alone. Last weekend, tech CEO Dan O’Dowd spent nearly $600,000 on a Super Bowl ad warning Americans about Tesla’s FSD feature. He tweeted“I’m trying to get rid of the worst, most incompetently designed, engineered and tested automotive product on the market.”
Tesla threatened O’Dowd and his group, the Dawn Project, with legal action last August after they released a viral video of a Tesla allegedly in FSD mode hitting a child-sized mannequin. In an unrelenting letter to O’Dowd, Tesla called the Dawn Project’s tests “seriously misleading and likely fraudulent.”
Tesla has faced lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny over its autonomous driving feature. And last month, reports emerged that a 2016 video demo about Tesla’s FSD mode had been staged, according to testimony from a company engineer.
Fortune contacted Tesla, but did not receive an immediate response.
Eberhard said he thinks it’s a mistake to think of a car as a software platform.
“I have an iPhone and every time I get a software update, it has bugs,” he told Insider. “These bugs mean, for example, that my News Feed app crashes every once in a while. It’s an annoyance on iPhone. But those kinds of bugs show up in the software that controls my brakes or steering, for example. It can kill you.”
This story was originally on Fortune.com
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