The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has completed a year-long review of allegations that some Tesla cars are accelerating without warning, saying there is not enough evidence to open a full investigation. While NHTSA has received 246 complaints about this phenomenon of “sudden unintentional acceleration”, the agency says that “incorrect application of the pedal” is the cause of the problem in any case for which there is data for review – user error, in other words.
“There is no evidence of any malfunction in the accelerator pedal assemblies, engine control systems or brake systems that contributed to any of the incidents reported,”
Allegations of so-called “sudden unintentional acceleration” have haunted Tesla for years. The company settled most of the alleged lawsuit in 2018 on the issue. NHTSA reports that it has collected crash data and video from black box event registrars and Tesla itself. While 246 cases have been reported, the agency does not specify the number of cases for which it has collected data. The problem was estimated to affect about 662,000 vehicles on the Tesla line.
The review was opened in January 2020 in response to a “defect petition” by Brian Sparks, an investor who was cutting Tesla shares (or betting that the price would fall). He reviewed more than 100 complaints on the issue, which had already been filed with the NHTSA, as well as similar events that were reported in the press, and asked the agency to investigate.
“I believe that Tesla cars have a structural flaw that puts drivers and the public at risk. In addition, I believe that Tesla should be aware of this shortcoming and not react to it, “he wrote in December 2019. Sparks also disputed Tesla’s reluctance to provide data on these accelerating events to owners. “This petition will show that, based on publicly available information, Tesla vehicles appear to have a problem with sudden unintentional acceleration, and Tesla needs to be aware of this problem.”
Tesla responded to the review with a blog post claiming that the idea was not worthy. “We investigate each incident when our driver claims that their car accelerated, contrary to the data entered by them, and in any case, when we had the data of the car, we confirm that the car works as designed,” writes the company.
In a message to On the edge Sparks said on Friday: “The rate of inadvertent acceleration reports remains particularly high for Tesla-made cars compared to other vehicles, but I trust government agencies. If NHTSA says there is no defect, then I believe them. Thanks to NHTSA for evaluating the SUA allegations. “