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THE INVESTOR

Automobiles

[TESLA DEFECT] Sudden acceleration cases piling up against Tesla

  • PUBLISHED :January 10, 2017 - 19:54
  • UPDATED :January 11, 2017 - 16:06
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[THE INVESTOR] Tesla Motors is mired in controversy as Korean actor-singer Son Ji-chang has filed a lawsuit in California alleging unintended acceleration of his Model X vehicle on Dec. 30.

The US-based electric car maker has denied that the accident was the result of a malfunction and has pinned the blame on the owner.

This is not the first “sudden unintended acceleration” accident of Tesla cars, as similar cases have surfaced in the past. 


Tesla Motors Club Forum


The first such reported case was when a Model X vehicle suddenly accelerated in a parking lot and ended up crashing into a building in Irvine, California, on June, 2016. Other incidents include a Model X vehicle crashing into a curb in a parking lot in Bradenton, Florida, on July 8, 2016, and a Tesla Model S car suddenly accelerating into a gym in Lighthouse Point, Florida, on Aug. 9, 2016.

According to EV website Electrek, the owners of such cars claim that their vehicle accelerated on its own. However, Tesla has claimed that they have reviewed the logs which showed that the accelerator pedal was fully pressed, even though the company has yet to publish the logs.

“Tesla’s cars do not accelerate without the driver instructing it to do so. In every situation where we have received a complaint, the vehicle’s diagnostic logs have confirmed that the acceleration was the result of the driver pressing the accelerator pedal,” said a Tesla spokesperson.

Along with the unintended acceleration issues, Tesla has also been scrutinized for its autopilot system as casualties and fatalities have been mounting recently. The first reported death in a Tesla Model S crash took place on May 7, 2016, in Florida while the autopilot was activated. 

According to information released by the Florida Highway Patrol, the vehicle went under the trailer of an 18-wheel semi and the roof of the car was torn off by the impact as the autopilot system didn’t detect the trailer as an obstacle and crashed into it.

Another fatal incident in China in January 2016, also sheds light on the unreliability of the autopilot system as a Tesla Model S crashed into a street-sweeper truck on the side of the road at highway speed, instantly killing the driver. The police found no signs that the brakes were activated before hitting the truck and reports claim that the autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident. The family of the driver reportedly sued Tesla in Beijing Chaoyang District People’s Court, saying that the automaker should take responsibility for the autopilot’s failure.

In previous accidents, Tesla has cited the company’s policy to advise drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and to always monitor the vehicle and the road when on autopilot. However, despite the precautionary owner’s manual, the autopilot creates a false sense of security that leads owners to overestimate the system’s capacity.

By Alex Lee (alexlee@heraldcorp.com)
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