The words “unintended acceleration” usually conjure images of homicidal Toyotas and demonically-possessed Audis.
Despite being a brand-new carmaker, Tesla Motors has so far been able to avoid safety scandals. In fact, the Model S recently excelled in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing.
Despite its world-class crash rating, an unintended acceleration complaint involving a Model S electric car has been filed with the NHTSA.
The complaint comes from a Model S owner who says his wife was leaving the driveway in the car when the incident happened.
“The car suddenly accelerated,” the statement said, “It hit a curb and the middle portion of the car landed on a 4.5-foot high vertical retaining wall.” The statement said the car was traveling at five mph – with the brake applied – when the sudden acceleration happened.
A Tesla engineer talked to the couple and analyzed data from the car. He determined that the accelerator had gone from 18 percent application to 100 percent very quickly, and concluded that the owner’s wife had accidentally stepped on the pedal.
The Tesla engineer also said the accelerator has a fail-safe that prevents from going above 92 percent, although what he was referring to is unclear.
Either way, a single complaint from a customer may not turn out to be significant. Many unintended acceleration claims turn out to be driver error.
The NHTSA hasn’t said whether it will start an investigation of this incident.