Tesla’s safety features are under investigation by the transportation ministry in South Korea.
Specifically, the braking, steering, and Autopilot systems present in the Model 3 are being targeted for review, according to ministry officials, reported by Reuters. Tesla is also said to be cooperating in the process that could take 6-12 months to complete. This news comes on the heels of a 1500% increase in sales of the all-electric sedan in the first half of 2020 in the country.
It’s not immediately clear what spurred the safety investigation in South Korea. However, the Model 3’s popularity has even crossed into its rental market. Along with a low price point due to government subsidies, the increase in ownership and vehicle use may have inadvertently put the electric sedan under a microscope, something Tesla has seen in other markets around the world.
A regional trial court in Germany recently considered a lawsuit by the Competition Center; an institution focused on enforcing the law against unfair competition in the country. The use of “Autopilot included” in Tesla’s advertising is argued to be misleading as it infers in-town driving without human assistance.
While the California-based automaker is clear in its information to drivers that Autopilot features require constant monitoring, the presiding judge warned during proceedings that the “standards of the law against unfair competition are rather strict.”
Tesla’s Autopilot and driver assistance systems have created a safer driving environment on the road, according to statistics released by the company. The electric automaker’s most recent safety report suggested improvements in vehicle safety as miles driven while using Tesla’s Autopilot per accident increased.
The report released by Tesla on May 1 stated that vehicles with Autopilot engaged registered an accident one time for every 4.68 million miles driven. The national average was 479,000 miles driven per accident.
The report of the investigation comes right on time as Tesla’s performance in South Korea begins to soar.
Tesla is directly competing against South Korean auto manufacturers with the Model 3, and the company’s quick rise in popularity has motivated Hyundai, headquartered in Seoul, to focus on electric battery-only production over their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle line.
“Hyundai did not expect Tesla to dominate the EV market so quickly,” an industry insider was quoted as saying. Tesla’s 23% rise in Model 3 sales over last year in the country eclipsed Hyundai’s Kona EV numbers as well as the Niro EV by Kia, another South Korean auto manufacturer.