The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said today that it is looking into claims that Tesla vehicles have a defect leading to ‘sudden unintended acceleration’ after receiving a petition citing 127 claimed incidents.
NHTSA said that it received the petition last month and confirmed that its Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) will be looking into the claims.
According to the petition, they have 127 complaints, including 110 that involved crashes and 52 that resulted in injuries.
NHTSA reported today:
“On December 19, 2019, the Office of Defects Investigation received a defect petition by email requesting a defect investigation of alleged sudden unintended acceleration in model year 2012 through 2019 Tesla Model S, MY 2016 through 2019 Tesla Model X, and MY 2018 through 2019 Tesla Model 3 vehicles. In support of his request, the petitioner cited 127 consumer complaints to NHTSA involving 123 unique vehicles. The reports include 110 crashes and 52 injuries. A copy of the petition will be added to the public file for this defect petition and ODI will evaluate the petitioner’s allegations to determine if the petition should be granted or denied. If the petition is granted, ODI will open a defect investigation; if the petition is denied, ODI will publish a notice in the Federal Register.”
Sudden unintended acceleration consists of vehicles accelerating without it being the driver’s intention – whether it is due to malfunction or driver error.
Several claims of sudden unintended acceleration involving Tesla vehicles have been made public over the years. The most publicized one involved a South Korean celebrity claiming his Model X accelerated on its own into his garage.
We also reported last year on a Chinese couple driving their Tesla into a river and claiming it accelerated on its own – pictured above.
In every case, including that one, Tesla claimed that the car’s log showed that it was a user mistake due to pedal misapplication.
In one case, we were even able to have Tesla’s log be verified by a third-party and it supported the automaker’s claims that it showed the driver pressed on the accelerator.
As I previously stated regarding claims of sudden unintended acceleration, a problem with Tesla’s system is not completely impossible, but user error still looks more likely to me.
These claims of sudden acceleration almost always happen in parking lots when drivers are trying to park.
Sometimes people are not used to driving powerful cars like Tesla vehicles, which can be less forgiving when you press the wrong pedal and people don’t want to admit their mistake – whether to others or even to themselves – so they prefer to think that the car accelerated on its own.
I’d be surprised if NHTSA finds that there’s a defect with Tesla vehicles on that front, but you never know.
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