Updated on 1-3-2017 by Stephen Edelstein: In addition to claiming that the sudden acceleration was caused by Son pressing the accelerator pedal, and not by any fault of the car, a statement from a Tesla spokesperson said the following:
“Before filing his class action lawsuit against Tesla, Mr. Son had threatened to use his celebrity in Korea to hurt Tesla unless we agreed to make a financial payment and acknowledge that the vehicle accelerated on its own. However, evidence clearly shows that the vehicle was not at fault. Our policy is to stand by the evidence and not to give in to ultimatums.”
Over the years, high-profile unintended-acceleration lawsuits have affected the likes of Audi and Toyota. Now Tesla has a similar lawsuit on its hands.
The suit was filed Friday in the United States District Court in the Central District of California by Model X owner Ji Chang Son, according to Reuters. When pulling into his driveway one night in September, the Model X “spontaneously began to accelerate at full power,” according to the lawsuit, crashing into the garage and “coming to rest in the plaintiffs’ living room.”
The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, cites seven other complaints registered in a database related to unintended acceleration compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The suit alleges product liability, negligence, and breaches of warranty, and seeks unspecified damages.
Tesla said in a statement that it had “conducted a thorough investigation” of the claims made in the lawsuit. The statement said that data from the Model X “conclusively shows that the crash was the result of Mr. Son pressing the accelerator pedal all the way to 100 percent.”
Tesla also said it has ways to protect against pedal misapplication, including using a car’s Autopilot sensors to distinguish between accidental use of the accelerator pedal and normal situations. Tesla builds Autopilot sensors into all of its cars, but charges owners for the software to run the system. It’s unclear if Son’s Model X was Autopilot enabled, or whether the safeguard mentioned by the company requires Autopilot to be activated.
Autopilot itself has attracted a fair bit of controversy. The system was initially praised as a potential technological breakthrough, but Tesla was heavily criticized in the wake of a fatal May 7 crash involving a Model S running it. Autopilot is still considered to be in the “beta” development stage, although Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes it will form the foundation for future autonomous cars.