In a statement released yesterday, Tesla insists that there is no unintended acceleration in its vehicles and that the recent petition launched by a group of U.S. drivers is “completely false.”
Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decided to review the petition, which alleges that all Tesla models sold since 2012 are prone to a safety defect that causes sudden and dangerous acceleration.
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This includes the 2012-2019 Model S and 2018-2019 Model 3 sedans as well as the 2016-2019 Model X crossover. Approximately 500,000 vehicles are covered by the review. The petition cited 127 complaints, including 110 crashes and 52 injuries.
At the time of writing, the NHTSA has not yet opened a formal investigation into the matter.
“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,” Tesla says, essentially putting the blame on its customers.
The throttles 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. The same thing happens when drivers apply the brake pedal simultaneously with the throttle; the system will override the latter to avoid unintended acceleration.
The ball is now in the NHTSA’s court, which is already filled with investigations into 14 crashes—including at least three fatal ones—that may have been caused by Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving technology.