In December 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) received a petition that requested an investigation into alleged sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in certain 2017-2019 Tesla Model 3, 2013-2019 Tesla Model S and 2016-2019 Tesla Model X vehicles. The petition cited 127 consumer complaints including 110 crashes and 52 injuries.
On January 13, 2020, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a Defect Petition (DP20-001) to assess the request. The investigation included reviews of all complaints and supporting information, as well as an additional 14 complaints that were either not included in the petition or were submitted after the petitioner’s submission. The review also included analyses of available crash data (EDR, Tesla log data, and/or video data) the NHTSA acquired from Tesla, as part of the investigation.
After reviewing the data, ODI has not identified evidence that would support a defect investigation into SUA in the subject vehicles. According to the NHTSA, “In every instance in which event data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that SUA crashes in the complaints have been caused by pedal misapplication. 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 incidents. 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.”
“NHTSA is authorized to issue an order requiring the remedy of a defect if the Agency’s investigation shows a defect in design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle that presents an unreasonable risk to safety. Since the information is not indicative of a vehicle based defect, it is unlikely that any investigation opened because of granting this petition would result in an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect. Therefore, upon full consideration of the information presented in the petition and the potential risks to safety, the petition is denied. The denial of this petition does not foreclose the Agency from taking further action if warranted or the potential for a future finding that a safety-related defect exists based upon additional information the agency may receive.”