Media Moves

Tesla defends cars after complaint about self-acceleration

January 21, 2020

Posted by Irina Slav

Tesla has rejected allegations that its cars can accelerate without the driver wanting them to in response to a petition that made the claim to the NHTSA.

Peter Valdes-Dapena reported the news for CNN:

Teslas only accelerate when you want them to, the company said in a blog post Monday. The post was made in response to a complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleging Tesla’s cars were having accidents because they accelerated unintentionally.

It is not known what group or person submitted the request to the federal agency, but Tesla blamed it on a “short-seller,” someone who makes money when the price of a stock drops. There are many Tesla short sellers.

“This petition is completely false and was brought by a Tesla short-seller,” the company wrote in the post.

The petition cited more than 100 complaints submitted to the NHTSA saying cars had accelerated on their own resulting in accidents. At least 52 people were injured in crashes. Nearly all the cases involved someone in a Tesla Model S, Model X or Model 3 pulling into or out of a parking space, driveway or garage, according to a review of the complaints by CNN Business.

William Feuer and Lora Kolodny from CNBC wrote:

The 127 complaints about Tesla vehicles suddenly accelerating are contained in a petition calling for a federal defect investigation of the matter. Independent investor Brian Sparks, who told CNBC last week that he is currently shorting Tesla stock, submitted the petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Sparks told CNBC on Monday, after Tesla issued its denial: “I am encouraged by Tesla’s commitment to continue cooperating with NHTSA, and I expect we will learn shortly why Tesla owners report unintended acceleration much more frequently than owners of other vehicles.”

The complaints contained in the petition, when tallied, allege that unintended acceleration of Tesla cars may have contributed to or caused 110 crashes and 52 injuries. Tesla provided few details on how it determined the complaints to be untrue.

“I am concerned that these complaints reflect a systemic defect that has not been investigated by NHTSA,” Sparks wrote in the petition. “I am also concerned that these potential defects represent risk to the safety of Tesla drivers, their passengers, and the public.”

T.C. Sottek from The Verge reported:

“We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input,” Tesla says. “In every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed.”

Tesla has had a long and contentious relationship with government regulators, including the NHTSA and NTSB. But in today’s statement, Tesla says that it is “transparent with the NHTSA, and routinely [reviews] customer complaints of unintended acceleration with them.” The company says it has discussed a majority of complaints alleged in the petition with regulators, and found that “the data proved the vehicle functioned properly.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long railed against short sellers, claiming they spread lies about his company and are being funded by oil companies. As he once told The New York Times, he believes short sellers are “desperately pushing a narrative that will possibly result in Tesla’s destruction.” Musk’s attempt to take his company private to defend against short sellers resulted in him being sued by the SEC.

The NHTSA said it would review the petition as part of its “standard practice in such matters.”


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