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Published: Wed, July 13, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

SEC investigating Tesla over failure to disclose driverless auto crash

SEC investigating Tesla over failure to disclose driverless auto crash

This is the third case reported in the last two weeks involving a Tesla vehicle involved in a one-vehicle accident that may or may not have involved the Autopilot semi-autonomous feature.

In its blog post, Tesla countered that there was no confirmation Autopilot was the cause of the crash.

In the vehicle company's blog, Tesla defended itself against implications by Fortune magazine that it had misled its investors about risks associated with its business and, specifically, Autopilot technology. Tesla sold billion worth of stock in the days following the crash, and has argued that the crash was not material to the financial wellbeing of the company. Tesla said Musk sold the shares due to tax requirements.

"Tesla has not received any communication from the SEC regarding this issue", a company spokeswoman told the WSJ. Numerous Tesla fan communities online share videos of drivers using Autopilot in a hands-free mode despite the company advising them against this.

Back in August 2006, Musk wrote a blog post where he laid out his plan for the Tesla Roadster, the Model S and the upcoming more-mass-market Model 3, as well as Tesla Energy. It noted that drivers had logged more than 100 million miles with Autopilot engaged before there was a fatal accident.

Paul Grieco, one of the lawyers for the Brown family, told Reuters his firm has received calls from other Tesla owners involved in accidents, some involving autopilot and others not.

"Given the fact that the "better-than-human" threshold had been crossed and robustly validated internally, news of a statistical inevitability did not materially change any statements previously made about the Autopilot system, its capabilities, or net impact on roadway safety", said the company statement.

On July 1, well-known Southfield art dealer Albert Scaglione and his son-in-law, Tim Yanke, were injured when Scaglione's Tesla Model X hit a guardrail along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the town of Bedford.

There were also reports that the driver had been watching a movie at the time of the accident, as well as questions about whether he had been operating the Autopilot feature consistent with Tesla's instructions.

Moreover, Tesla says its investigators did not get the chance to recover the complete logs until May 18, when they inspected the auto and the crash site.

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