South Korean police drop investigation into ‘defective’ Tesla door handles

The South Korean police have dropped their investigation into alleged defects in Tesla’s door handles that violated the country’s Motor Vehicle Management Act and Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said on Thursday that due to a lack of evidence Elon Musk, Tesla Korea, and Tesla’s US headquarters will not face charges from the anti-corruption and public crime investigative unit.

“The accusers claimed that the failure of the vehicle’s door to open when the power was shut off represented a ‘vehicle defect,’ and after questioning of witnesses and an authoritative interpretation from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, it was determined that this could not be viewed as a flaw that creates problems for safe operation of the vehicle, and the decision was made not to refer the case due to lack of evidence,” a police official said. (via Hani)

The investigation began in November 2021 when the group Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty accused Musk and Tesla for violating the Motor Vehicle Management Act a few months earlier.

The group alleged that Tesla’s “hidden” door handles, which remain concealed until pressed and don’t work when there is no power to the vehicle was a “defect” creating difficulties for drivers and passengers and Tesla was putting lives in danger for economic profit.

“Despite being previously aware of defects such as the Tesla Model X’s touch-based approach and the hidden pop-up method of the Model S creating difficulties for safe operation, [Tesla] has concealed them and failed to take any corrective action, while continuing to engage in unethical business activities, focusing solely on economic profits at the expense of consumers’ safety and lives,” the group argued.

In its owner’s manuals, Tesla says their doors can be opened with a mechanical release when there is no power to the vehicle. This issue recently came to light in Canada, when a Model Y owner in Vancouver couldn’t open his door when his car started smoking at a red light, before catching fire a few minutes later. In an interview with Drive Tesla, the owner said he was aware of the mechanical release, but in the heat of the moment forgot it was there and resorted to kicking out the driver’s window to escape.

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