Teslas produced as far back as 2012 may be at risk of unintended acceleration.
Some 500,000 Tesla vehicles in the US could be formally investigated by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for potential unintended acceleration, Reuters reports. The agency has stated that it is now reviewing a petition with 127 consumer complaints related to unintended acceleration issues, covering 123 unique vehicles. A total of 110 crashes and 23 injuries have been reported.
Complaints registered on the petition cover Tesla Model S sedans from 2012 to 2019; Model X crossovers from 2016 to 2019; and Model 3 sedans built from 2018 to 2019. In other words, the investigation could cover every production Tesla sold in the US save for the Lotus Elise-based Tesla Roadster.
Cases of alleged unintended acceleration are nothing new in the US. Famously, Audi 5000 sales plummeted in the US in the late 1980s after hundreds of accidents and several deaths were linked to unintended acceleration. More recently, around the turn of the last decade, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles in the US, Europe, and China for the same issue.
In Tesla's case, the potential for a NHTSA investigation is just the latest addition to mounting scrutiny over the perceived safety of its vehicles. The US safety agency's special investigations arm has already launched or concluded fourteen different crash probes relating to Tesla's advanced Autopilot driver assistance program.
On top of this, last year, Tesla was forced to act after thousands of examples of the Model S and Model X were found to have a potential defect that contributed to an increased risk of battery pack-related fires. The NHTSA is still reviewing whether Tesla ought to have recalled the affected cars, rather than simply issuing a battery management software update over the air.
Yet in the case of unintended acceleration, the causes can be quite varied, ranging from poorly designed floor mats with a tendency to bunch up underneath the accelerator pedal, to brake and accelerator pedals that are placed too close together, causing driver confusion, to legitimate issues with throttle operation or idle-speed settings, causing faster-than-normal take-off.
We'll just have to wait for an answer to the question of what might be causing Tesla's alleged issues.