Late last week it was announced the NHTSA had received a petition requesting an investigation into ‘unintended acceleration’ in Tesla vehicles. It was later discovered that the petition was filed by Brian Sparks, someone who is a Tesla stock (TSLA) short-seller and has a vested interest in the stock price going down.
Today Tesla officially responded to the petition filed with the NHTSA last week, claiming that there is no such thing as unintended acceleration, and the claims made by Sparks are without merit.
In their statement, Tesla says they have already investigated every single incident of purported unintended acceleration, even some of the very ones cited in the petition with the NHTSA already. Each time they found the car operated exactly as designed, with the blame laying solely on the driver where they mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.
Thanks to Tesla’s complex and comprehensive computer systems and sensors, they are able to download data from any vehicle in question, and tell just how much the accelerator or brake are pressed at any given moment.
Tesla also detailed in their statement how they are able to use the Autopilot sensors to monitor pedal ‘misapplications’ and cut off power and or torque to help prevent accidents.
It is important to remember that what has been filed with the NHTSA is just a petition asking them to investigate Tesla. No such investigation has been ordered, and the NHTSA is simply reviewing the petition to see if they should launch a probe about the allegations.
Hopefully once the dust settles and the truth is revealed, appropriate action will be taken against Sparks for filing a false petition for the intention of monetary gain (stock goes down, and he as a short-seller profits).
Here is the full statement from Tesla:
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.
We are transparent with NHTSA, and routinely review customer complaints of unintended acceleration with them. Over the past several years, we discussed with NHTSA the majority of the complaints alleged in the petition. In every case we reviewed with them, the data proved the vehicle functioned properly.