U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Opens Second Investigation into Tesla Vehicles

By B.N. Frank

Tempted to buy a Tesla?  Unfortunately Tesla vehicles continue to be associated with accidents, investigations, lawsuits, recalls, and other miscellaneous and sometimes dangerous problems (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).  In fact, another investigation was launched last week.

From Gov Tech:

Pump the Brakes: Tesla Finds Itself in Another Federal Probe

The Tesla car is recognized as a revolutionary vehicle when it comes to self-driving capabilities, but an automatic braking issue has drawn the attention of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(TNS) — The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened its second defect investigation related to Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot, subjecting more scrutiny to the carmaker’s driver-assistance technology.

The agency said Thursday it’s launching a preliminary evaluation of unexpected braking by Tesla Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport utility vehicles. NHTSA estimates that the investigation covers about 416,000 cars and said it has received 354 complaints related to the issue in the past nine months.

The Autopilot probes could pose risk to Tesla’s commercialization of automated-vehicle technology. In the weeks leading up to the company becoming the first carmaker with a $1 trillion market valuation, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk tweeted that investors were giving Tesla “significant credit for achieving self-driving.”

Tesla shares fell 3.9% to $887.58 as of 12:55 p.m. New York time. The stock extended its decline after the carmaker sank toward the bottom of Consumer Reports’ latest annual auto brand rankings.

Tesla has marketed features using the names Autopilot and Full Self-Driving that still require drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. The company has drawn criticism from the likes of the National Transportation Safety Board, former NHTSA leaders and members of Congress over issues including how it’s branded the systems and whether it does enough to safeguard against inattentiveness and misuse.

“While it’s encouraging to see NHTSA’s recent enforcement actions after years of turning the other way, Tesla continues to release software onto U.S. roads that is not tested and validated to assure safe performance,” said Michael Brooks, acting executive director and chief counsel of the Center for Auto Safety. “A piecemeal investigative approach to each problem that raises its head does not address the larger issue in Tesla’s safety culture — the company’s continued willingness to beta test its technology on the American public while misrepresenting the capabilities of its vehicles.”

NHTSA opened its earlier probe into a possible Autopilot defect in August, when it began investigating how the system handles crash scenes following a dozen collisions with first responders and other vehicles. In December, NHTSA launched an evaluation of Tesla allowing car occupants to play video games on front-center touch screens. The carmaker told the agency it would work on a software update to lock the feature when vehicles are in motion.

The probe of unexpected braking comes two weeks after NHTSA announced it was reviewing complaints about Tesla’s forward-collision avoidance system.

“The reports have often been characterized as ‘phantom braking’ by consumers,” the agency said in a filing posted to its website Thursday. “Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.”

NHTSA said it will “determine the scope and severity of the potential problem” and “fully assess the potential safety-related issues.”


After NHTSA opened the probe into how Teslas on Autopilot handles crash scenes, the company beamed an over-the-air update to its vehicles that sought to improve how the system detects police cars and fire trucks. NHTSA asked the carmaker in October to justify its decision to make the software change without filing a recall.

Since then, Tesla has announced 11 recalls in the U.S.

Musk took issue earlier this month with media coverage of one of the safety campaigns, arguing the term recall is “anachronistic” when Tesla makes fixes with over-the-air updates. On Feb. 13, he referred to NHTSA as “the fun police” after the agency pressured the company to restrict a feature called Boombox, which enabled people to play sounds through an external car speaker.

Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department, did not respond to a request for comment on NHTSA’s investigation.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Of course, safety issues have been identified with other Autonomous Vehicles’ technology as well.

Additional Tesla complaints include

To be fair, battery fires, fires that are difficult to extinguish, and radiation emissions have been reported with other company’s Electric Vehicles (EVs) too (see 1, 2, 3, 4).

Activist Post reports regularly about Teslas, Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), Electric Vehicles (EVs) and unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

Image: Pixabay

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