NHTSA Mulls Petition Seeking Tesla Recall Investigation

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nhtsa mulls petition seeking tesla recall investigation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed to review a petition requesting the agency formally investigate 500,000 vehicles manufactured by Tesla Motors. The petition cites 127 consumer complaints to NHTSA involving models produced since 2012 and asks the NHTSA look into 500,000 units it believes may need to be recalled.

Many of the complaints involve incidents of unintended acceleration when attempting to park vehicles; others cite events where a vehicle’s advanced driving systems (namely Autopilot) led to erratic behavior or crashes in traffic. On Friday, the agency said it would look into the issue.

The agency already has several ongoing investigations relating to Tesla. Another petition, this time from September, encouraged the NHTSA to examine 2,000 vehicles the company attempted to fix via an over-the-air software push. The petition claims these cars, which received the update in May of 2019, never should have been able to be sold due to a presumed battery fire risk.

According to Reuters, Edward Chen, one of the lawyers that filed the petition, suggested the number of affected vehicles could be much higher than 2,000.

We also recently received confirmation that the NHTSA was examining the December 29th crash of a Tesla Model 3. That incident resulted in the death of one passenger after the vehicle collided with a parked fire truck in Indiana. It’s the 14th case of the agency’s special crash investigation program needing to take another look at Autopilot. Still, it may not be fair to call the system inherently unsafe.

Many of the issues surrounding Tesla’s advanced driving aids probably stem from customers mistakenly thinking their cars are equipped for self-driving. While some of the blame lies with the manufacturer’s marketing efforts, Tesla has tried to be clearer in recent years about Autopilot’s very real limitations. Unfortunately, we continue to see people abusing these systems by giving them unwarranted levels of trust.

The NHTSA will likely conduct a technical review of the latest allegations, deciding afterward whether or not to open a formal investigation. “As is the agency’s standard practice in such matters, NHTSA will carefully review the petition and relevant data,” the agency said in a statement.

[Image: Welcomia/Shutterstock]

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  • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 19, 2020

    It would be nice to see Tesla and that fraud Musk lose big time over this. But it won’t happen. All Teslas should be recalled due to glaring safety issues. Autopilot being first and foremost but then the cheap batteries that just start on fire whenever they feel like it. The sudden acceleration is interesting though. My guess is they are using the same type of garbage software that is being used for autopilot. Beta level software that isn’t ready to begin testing let alone see production and use by the end user.

    • See 2 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Jan 21, 2020

      @EBFlex The affected vehicles -- which do NOT include Tesla's high volume model, the 3 -- got a silent fix via software update. However the update can nerf charging speed, performance and range for some users, and some who complain about being nerfed are getting new battery packs. Interestingly, the new pack operates at 350 volts as opposed to...what was it, 455 for the original?

  • Islander800 Islander800 on Jan 19, 2020

    Oh for the love of.... Take the first obvious step and clamp a "cease and desist" order on Tesla to STOP calling their drive assist "autopilot". Obviously, people are TOO DUMB to realize that it's no such thing and persist in pretending Musk's cars can actually drive themselves in real world situations, putting themselves and everyone around them at risk of serious injury or death. Maybe you can't fix a system that's not ready for prime time but you can at least attempt to fix STUPID….

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