Tesla sets the record straight on ‘unintended acceleration’ claims

(Credit: Tesla)

Tesla has put its foot down on claims that its vehicles are prone to sudden “unintended acceleration,” which was alleged in a petition to the NHTSA submitted by a short-seller. In a recently-published blog post, the electric car maker explained that claims of SUA are false simply because its cars are designed to accelerate only when they are told to do so. 

News recently broke that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing a petition claiming that all Tesla models are prone to SUA, and are therefore rife with a dangerous safety defect. The petition, which covers about 500,000 Teslas produced from 2013 to 2019, included 127 complaints that were submitted either by owners themselves, or others filing on their behalf.  

The petition was submitted by Brian Sparks, who happens to be shorting Tesla stock. This means that he is financially incentivized to help push TSLA prices down. Unfortunately for the short-seller, claims of SUA on Teslas have never really borne fruit, as the vehicle’s logs have always proven that “unintended acceleration” happened because the driver pressed the accelerator by mistake. 

And it’s not just Tesla that has defended its vehicles, either. Jason Hughes, a Tesla owner who has delved deep in the company’s software, and who has been critical of the company in the past, has gone on record offering a financial reward to anyone who can prove that a Tesla was involved in a sudden unintended acceleration incident. So far, no one has proven Hughes wrong yet, and he is confident enough to state that vehicle logs always show that SUA is simply not possible. 

These are the points Tesla outlined in its recent blog post. In a firmly-worded manner, the electric car maker stated that there is no “unintended acceleration” in its vehicles. The company also noted that it has worked with the agency to ensure that its vehicles are safe, and that it has reviewed claims of SUA with them. In every instance, vehicle logs proved that the electric cars functioned as intended. 

Following is Tesla’s blog post about the recent “unintended acceleration” claims. 

There is no “unintended acceleration” in Tesla vehicles

The Tesla Team – January 20, 2020

This petition is completely false and was brought by a Tesla short-seller. We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input, and in every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed. In other words, the car accelerates if, and only if, the driver told it to do so, and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake.

While accidents caused by a mistaken press of the accelerator pedal have been alleged for nearly every make/model of vehicle on the road, the accelerator pedals in Model S, X and 3 vehicles have two independent position sensors, and if there is any error, the system defaults to cut off motor torque. Likewise, applying the brake pedal simultaneously with the accelerator pedal will override the accelerator pedal input and cut off motor torque, and regardless of the torque, sustained braking will stop the car. Unique to Tesla, we also use the Autopilot sensor suite to help distinguish potential pedal misapplications and cut torque to mitigate or prevent accidents when we’re confident the driver’s input was unintentional. Each system is independent and records data, so we can examine exactly what happened.

We are transparent with NHTSA, and routinely review customer complaints of unintended acceleration with them. Over the past several years, we discussed with NHTSA the majority of the complaints alleged in the petition. In every case we reviewed with them, the data proved the vehicle functioned properly.

Tesla sets the record straight on ‘unintended acceleration’ claims
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