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Tesla Model 3 traveling on Autopilot explodes twice after hitting a tow truck


Part of Moscow’s main ring road became a fiery mess after a Tesla Model 3 crashed into the back of a tow truck and exploded twice on the evening of Saturday, August 10. The driver and two of his children miraculously escaped the wreck with only minor injuries. He told investigators the collision happened while he was using Autopilot.

Details about the accident and the subsequent explosions are still trickling in. Investigators say Russian businessman Alexey Tretyakov was behind the wheel of his Model 3 when it slammed into a parked tow truck at about 62 mph. Early reports claimed Tretyakov and the two children sitting in the back were severely injured, but Reuters learned the driver merely broke his leg during the accident, while his kids suffered little more than bruises, which is impressive.

Video footage posted by Instagram user Gagorun shows the electric sedan engulfed in flames behind the tow truck it hit. As the user cruises by, two small explosions coming from the car pelt debris and black smoke into the air. The cause of the explosion hasn’t been determined yet, though it’s not unreasonable to assume they came from the battery pack. Digital Trends reached out to Tesla for more information, and we’ll update this story if we hear back.

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The accident happened after dark. Tretyakov told Moscow police that he didn’t see the tow truck his car hit, and that Tesla’s Autopilot technology was engaged at the time of the accident. He said both of his hands were on the steering wheel, but Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported he was looking at his kids in the back seat when the Model 3 rammed into the truck. The publication added the sedan made no attempt to slow down, swerve, or warn the driver of an imminent collision. If these statements are accurate, the car and the driver would both deserve to share the blame.

The crash comes shortly after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed it asked Tesla to stop making misleading statements about the Model 3’s safety in late 2018. The agency also served Tesla subpoenas to obtain information about several accidents involving its vehicles, according to the same report.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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