Tesla faces U.S. criminal probe - sources

STORY: Sources say Tesla is now facing a criminal investigation in the U.S. over claims it made about its electric vehicles and their ability to drive themselves.

According to three Reuters sources, the U.S. Department of Justice launched the probe last year following more than a dozen crashes, some of them fatal.

The investigation focuses on the driver assistance system Autopilot, and whether Tesla misled consumers, investors and regulators.

This was a typically bullish Elon Musk in 2015, the CEO of Tesla.

"I think... I'm quite confident that in three years the car will be able to take you from point to point. Basically from your driveway to your work without touching anything. You could be asleep the whole time, and do so very safely."

Just a year later in 2016, Tesla’s marketing materials touted Autopilot’s capabilities.

And on a conference call that same year, Musk, described it as “probably better” than a human driver.

A video currently on the company’s website says:

“The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”

Tesla has, however, explicitly warned drivers that while using Autopilot, they must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicles.

Such warnings could complicate any case the Justice Department might wish to bring.

The DOJ declined to comment, and Tesla did not respond.