NHTSA determines sudden acceleration complaints in Tesla vehicles were due to driver error


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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined the reports of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) involving four different Tesla models were due to user error.

The NHTSA first began investing the claims last January, shortly after Brian Sparks requested the agency recall all Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles made during or after 2013. In its review, the NHTSA analyzed the 232 SUA complaints Sparks provided to the agency, as well as 14 other complaints and all available crash data.

The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation has now determined that all of the crashes involving SUA that Sparks cited were caused by the driver. Therefore, the NHTSA is denying Sparks’ petition to formally review 662,109 vehicles and potentially recall them.

“There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the cited incidents,” the report states. “There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication. The theory provided of a potential electronic cause of SUA in the subject vehicles is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data.”

Tesla had previously denied the claims, calling the petition “completely false” and outing Sparks as 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,” the company said last January. “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.”

The NHTSA’s investigation confirmed Tesla’s own findings. TechCrunch has reached out to Tesla and will update this story if we hear back.


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