Tesla has strongly rejected claims that some of its cars are prone to sudden and unexpected acceleration.
The accusation was made known last week when it emerged that more than 100 Tesla owners had signed a petition citing the issue as the cause of 110 crashes and 52 injuries involving the Model S, the Model X, and the Model 3 vehicles.
The petition is now being evaluated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ahead of a decision on whether it merits a formal defect investigation.
In a strongly worded statement issued on Monday, January 20, the Elon Musk-owned company insisted “there is no ‘unintended acceleration’ in Tesla vehicles,” and described the petition as “completely false.”
It said it had been brought by a short-seller (who can profit when the price of a company’s stock drops), an assertion first reported by CNBC when news of the petition broke last week.
Tesla said it’s always transparent with the NHTSA, and that over the past several years it had discussed with the agency “the majority of the complaints alleged in the petition,” adding that in every case where it had the vehicle’s data, it was able to confirm that the car operated as designed. In other words, the car accelerated when the driver pressed the corresponding pedal, and slowed when they hit the brake.
Accidental application of the accelerator is a well-documented driving error. In Japan, for example, the issue is currently receiving much attention following a spate of accidents caused by the error, with most cases involving elderly drivers. Sliding floor mats have also been known to pin down the accelerator pedal, an issue that prompted Toyota to recall several million vehicles in 2009.
The Tesla owners who signed the petition have asked the NHTSA to recall 500,000 cars built between 2012 and 2019, which covers most of the vehicles Tesla has manufactured to date.
As noted by Consumer Reports, one of the petition’s complainants includes claims by a Henderson, Nevada resident of two sudden acceleration incidents in the space of three months. One of the alleged incidents occurred when the owner was maneuvering his Model S into a parking space, with the vehicle reportedly experiencing “uncontrollable acceleration” that led to a crash resulting in cracked ribs and property damage valued at $18,000.
Whatever the true cause of the unexpected accelerations, Tesla will be keen to clear up the issue as soon as possible. However, the NHTSA has so far offered no timeline for its preliminary investigation.
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