Just yesterday we wrote that it was starting to feel like the movie Groundhog Day for Tesla when it comes to the company’s executive departures. Now, there is again a distinct Groundhog Day feel to Tesla – but this time as it relates to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigations.
Continuing in what has been an unprecedented storm of negative headlines for Elon Musk’s company that started a couple months ago, it was announced today that the NHTSA is going to be investigating a recent Tesla crash in Utah. Reuters reported:
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Wednesday that it was sending a team to investigate the crash of a Tesla Inc vehicle last week in Utah that the driver said occurred while the car was in autopilot mode. It is the third Tesla crash that may be linked to the semi-autonomous Autopilot system being investigated by the government agency since January.
“The agency has launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordan, Utah, crash,” the agency said on Wednesday. “NHTSA will take appropriate action based on its review.”
That crash, as described previously, involved a Tesla Model S sedan which smashed into a Salt Lake City fire truck while traveling at 60 miles per hour last Friday night. The driver said she was using autopilot at the time of the crash and suffered a broken ankle.
The big surprise, as the article points out, is that this is the third investigation that the NHTSA has launched into Tesla since January. This should be of concern for the company as the NHTSA has the authority to force the company into issuing recalls which, if costly enough, could be a financial hurdle that Tesla might have trouble surviving in its current financial state.
NHTSA is also investigating a fatal crash in March that involved a Tesla Model X using Autopilot. It is also probing the January crash of a Tesla vehicle apparently traveling in Autopilot that struck a fire truck. Both incidents were in California.
Last week, NHTSA also said it would probe a May 8 Tesla accident in Florida that killed two teenagers and injured another. Autopilot was not thought to play a part.
NHTSA can order a recall if it finds a defect poses an unreasonable risk to safety.
Certainly the timing of this NHTSA regulatory scrutiny couldn’t be worse for the company, because in …read more