Late last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that it is currently determining whether it will launch an investigation into Tesla vehicles. The agency received a petition stating that over a hundred Teslas are experiencing “sudden unexpected acceleration.”
Now, the electric carmaker claims that these allegations are inherently false. Furthermore, CEO Elon Musk believes that it is the result of investors that are currently shorting Tesla’s stock. In other words, they are selling it at a high price, hoping for some events to lower the price, and then purchase it again while pocketing the profit.
The NHTSA will continue to review the petition before opening an offical case or dismissing it.
The allegations against Tesla were submitted to the NHTSA on January 17 by Brain Sparks, an independent investor. It’s intriguing to note that Sparks “is currently shorting Tesla stock.”
With that in mind, it’s hard to determine if he is submitting the petition for an investigation in good faith or due to his financial stance. That is something that the NHTSA must take into account while reviewing his case.
Sparks’ petition includes the Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles. It specifically points to 127 consumer complaints, 110 crashes, and 52 injuries with 123 unique Tesla vehicles included. In a broad sense, the petition encapsulates more than 500,000 vehicles that could possibly be subject to recall if the NHTSA determines that a safety issue is present. Tesla broke its silence on Monday, lashing out at the case for spewing “completely false” claims about its electric cars.
The company says, “We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input. In every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed.”
That quote seemingly contradicts the petition’s argument that Tesla vehicles are accelerating on their own. Of course, it will be up to the NHTSA to either take Tesla at its word or probe the situation further.
For Tesla, this isn’t the first time it has crossed paths with the NHTSA. It’s previous run-ins mainly revolve around its advanced driver assistance system, Autopilot.
Considering the drawn-out relationship between the two, it’s not surprising that Tesla has learned to work with the oversight agency rather than pushing back against it. CEO Elon Musk says that his company is “transparent with the NHTSA, and routinely [reviews] customer complaints of unintended acceleration with them.”
Likewise, Musk is all-too-familiar with short sellers. He has repeatedly claimed that they lie about his company at the behest of oil firms. In fact, he so despises them that he tried to take Tesla private in 2018 to defend it against short sellers. That ill-advised move led to the CEO being sued by the SEC.
At this point, the entire issue seems rather hazy considering the many factors playing into it. In the coming days, it will be interesting to see how the NHTSA proceeds. So far, the agency has said that it will review the petition as it is “standard practice in such matters.”