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Published: Fri, July 15, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

NHTSA seeks answers on fatal Tesla Autopilot crash


The latest crash involved a Tesla owner who has only identified himself by his last name, Pang.

The Journal has catalogued a number of accidents that Tesla drivers say were linked to Autopilot use, including a July 1 incident in Pennsylvania that USA regulators are also reportedly looking into.

Tesla's Autopilot feature has come under scrutiny in the wake of the three accidents, with the company issuing a lengthy blog post touting Autopilot's safety record compared to normal driving, as well as reiterating a warning about the proper procedures for using the system.

The Palo Alto electric auto maker characterized the death as "the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated", but faced criticism for not disclosing the crash to the SEC, a possible breach of its corporate duty to inform the agency - and thus, its investors - of so-called material events. "It's a winding road going through a canyon, with no shoulder", Shope told CNNMoney. Pang told Shope he was driving between 55 and 60 miles per hour on a road with a 55 miles per hour speed limit.

NHTSA on Tuesday disclosed a nine-page letter to Tesla requesting documents and details of additional crashes involving Tesla's Autopilot as part of its ongoing probe. They also say they have no plans to disable the feature, which is installed in about 70,000 Tesla cars on the road.

Tesla said on Wednesday a new version of the Model X crossover, the 60D, will be priced from $74,000, $9,000 less than the Model X 75D.

"We specifically advise against its use at high speeds on undivided roads", it said.

Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S drove under a truck in Florida.

Japan's Transport Ministry recently said that dealers selling cars with driver-assist functions should remind consumers of their limits, noting that Tesla's Autopilot system isn't fully autonomous, and saying that drivers should be responsible in the event of accidents.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday it is also probing the fatal Florida crash.

SEC officials are reportedly investigating whether the fatality involving Tesla's Autopilot technology could be viewed as potentially having a significant effect on the financial health of the company and, as a result, would be considered "material" information. It investigates only about 25 to 30 highway crashes year. The company need to see if the autopilot is associated with accident or not. "There's an opportunity to learn from the information about how automation is introduced into American highways". On a two-lane highway the vehicle began to leave the road and hit a wooden guard rail.

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