Modern cars are much smarter than the cars from back in the day, where they are now equipped with computers and sensors that are supposed to make the driving experience better. However, sometimes the addition of modern technology can make things worse and more complicated. Even dangerous.
Which is why there is a petition urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to formally recall 500,000 Tesla vehicles over complaints that these Tesla cars are suddenly accelerating by themselves seemingly out of the blue, leading to crashes and accidents. That is not good.
In one case, a Tesla owner alleges that the vehicle, in this case, a 2015 Tesla Model S 85D was both closed and locked when suddenly, the car started accelerating forward and crashed into a parked car. Another driver claimed that they were driving up to their garage door when the car lurched forward, driving through the garage door and only stopping when it hit a wall.
It is unclear what is causing these cars to accelerate, but Tesla has yet to officially comment on the petition and the NHTSA’s review of the petition. We hope that Tesla finds a fix very soon so no one gets hurt by this.
Updated with an official 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.