WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tesla this week refuted an allegation some of its vehicles were capable of accelerating without driver input.
Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged it was reviewing a defect petition alleging such “sudden acceleration” issues in model year (MY) 2012-19 Tesla Model S, MY 2016-19 Tesla Model X and MY 2018-19 Tesla Model 3 vehicles.
“In support of his request [for investigation], the petitioner cited 127 consumer complaints to NHTSA involving 123 unique vehicles. The reports include 110 crashes and 52 injuries,” the agency’s summary specified. Complete review of the petition will determine the need for a formal investigation.
Tesla responded to the petition and allegation with a post on its blog (which can be read in its entirety by clicking on this):
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.