Tesla said Monday that claims that its cars could suddenly accelerate without warning are without merit and were made by a profit-seeking investor.
“This petition is completely false and was brought by a Tesla short-seller,” the company wrote on its website. “We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input, and in every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed.”
The company claimed that it has reviewed every unintended acceleration complaint made by owners and so far it’s found that Tesla’s cars have performed as designed. It said its Model S hatchback, Model X crossover, and Model 3 sedan include multiple fail-safes to preclude unintended acceleration, including position sensors on the throttle that could cut power if a discrepancy is reported.
Last week, federal authorities said they would review claims made by Berkeley, California resident Brian Sparks, who wrote to the agency and claimed that Tesla’s owners were reporting claims of unintended acceleration at a far higher rate than other cars. Sparks claimed that the 2016 Tesla Model X crossover had an unintended acceleration claim rate roughly 30 times higher than the national average.
2016 Tesla Model X
“I believe Tesla vehicles have a structural flaw which puts their drivers and the public at risk,” Sparks wrote in a redacted complaint released by the federal agency last week.
Sparks told CNBC that he is selling short Tesla stock, but said he’s held other positions on the stock before. It’s unclear if Sparks owns a Tesla or if he’s filed a complaint on behalf of other owners.
“Over the past several years, we discussed with NHTSA the majority of the complaints alleged in the petition. In every case we reviewed with them, the data proved the vehicle functioned properly,” Tesla wrote in a statement.
In the coming weeks, federal officials are expected to announce whether to launch an official probe into the claims or to dismiss the original petition.