Tesla Motors is coming under fire again with a lawsuit claiming that one of their cars, the Model X, suddenly accelerated causing damage to the owners’ home. It’s important to note that this does not concern the autopilot feature of the Tesla vehicles. Gizmodo reports that the lawsuit claims the owner of the Model X, Ji Chang Son, was pulling into his driveway when the vehicle spontaneously accelerated. An excerpt of the lawsuit, reported by VentureBeat, states that the vehicle jerked forward and crashed into the owner’s home.
“The vehicle spontaneously began to accelerate at full power, jerking forward and crashing through the interior wall of the garage, destroying several wooden support beams in the wall and a steel sewer pipe, among other things, and coming to rest in Plaintiffs’ living room.”
The lawsuit, which seeks to obtain class action status, cites seven other complaints of sudden acceleration and is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
While the seven other claims have been registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the details of the claims are far from uncontested. In each of those cases, Tesla reviewed the logs and concluded that the accelerator pedal was pressed. In an article published by electrek, a quote from a Tesla spokesperson stated the following.
“Tesla’s cars do not accelerate without the driver instructing it to do so. In every situation where we have received a customer claim about this, the vehicle’s diagnostic logs have confirmed that the acceleration was the result of the driver pressing the accelerator pedal.”
Additionally, they reported the findings of an independent source. Jason Hughes purchased one of the Tesla Model X vehicles that was involved in one of the claims. He was then able to find out that the vehicles save footage from the autopilot cameras in the event of a collision, like a dashcam. Using this, and comparing them to pictures from the original incident, he was able to confirm that it was the same vehicle. He then looked at the logs from that time and confirmed what Tesla had stated, the accelerator was pressed and the brake was not. These findings are especially important considering that Tesla has not released the logs that they obtained on any of the incidents.
Those findings, however, cannot be applied to any of the other incidents directly, including the one that this lawsuit pertains to. Additionally, some of the persons involved in the other claims have questioned the validity of Tesla’s claims, questioning whether it may have been some sort of sensor error on the Tesla Model X, or if Tesla is telling the truth about the logs.
Another very possible explanation for these incidents is user error. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately 16,000 crashes caused by pedal error, or mistaking the accelerator for the brake, each year. While pressing the wrong pedal can cause issues in any vehicle, it can be especially troublesome for the Model X. Being an electric engine, it doesn’t behave in the same way that you would be used to with a gas-powered engine. The Tesla Model X can accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 3.2 seconds and has been reported by MotorTrend as the quickest SUV they’ve ever tested. The acceleration is also different in that it’s a more immediate response, as opposed to the ramp-up that you normally get from a gas engine.
What will come of this lawsuit, and the true cause of the collision, is still to be seen. Outside of the lawsuit, Elon Musk and all of his teams still have something to look forward to. Space X, another of Musk’s ventures, is still looking to launch their Falcon 9 rocket in January, following a delay stemming from a rocket explosion in September.
[Featured Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]