tesla car crash

A Tesla (NYSE: TSLA) car crashed into a stationary firetruck. While it is not yet clear whether the vehicle was on Autopilot, the crash comes at a time when the company’s autonomous driving software is facing intense scrutiny.

A Tesla Model 3 car crashed into a parked Contra Costa County Fire Protection District truck on Interstate 680. The car driver was pronounced dead while a passenger in the vehicle is reportedly critical.

There were four firefighters in the truck who suffered minor injuries. While it is still not known whether the car was on the driver assistance system, several US regulators are investigating Tesla FSD (full-self driving).

Recently, Tesla disclosed that the DOJ requested documents related to FSD. The SEC is also investigating the company for alleged deceptive marketing practices for the FSD.

Separately, the NHTSA (National Highway Transport Safety Administration) is investigating several cases of crashes, including fatal ones, involving Tesla’s autonomous driving system.

Recently, Tesla recalled 362,758 vehicles which include Model 3, Model Y, Model S, and Model X. The company’s CEO Elon Musk is not too happy with it being called a “recall” and tweeted that it is an over-the-air update only.

In its release, the NHTSA said, the affected cars can “act unsafe around intersections, such as traveling straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or proceeding into an intersection during a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution.”

Tesla Car Crashes Into an Emergency Vehicle (Yet Again)

Notably, over two dozen Tesla vehicles have crashed into stationary emergency vehicles when running on the Autopilot.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Some researchers have found that vehicle cameras and radar can have trouble recognizing parked police cruisers and equipment like traffic cones and that emergency vehicles can present unique challenges for driver-assistance systems.”

Notably, while many autonomous cars use lidars, Musk has not been a fan of the technology. Similarly, Musk does not believe that hydrogen-powered vehicles hold any future. There is a list of renewable energy companies that are a play on the green energy transition.

Meanwhile, the fatal crash is coming at a time when Tesla’s autonomous driving has been facing intense scrutiny.

This year, Dawn Project released a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl calling out TSLA for deceptive marketing.

The video showed a Tesla Model 3 allegedly on FSD and proclaims “Tesla Full Self-Driving will run down a child in a school crosswalk, swerve into oncoming traffic, hit a baby in a stroller, go straight past stopped school buses, ignore do not enter signs and even drive on the wrong side of the road.”

The ad stressed, “Tesla’s Full Self-Driving is endangering the public with deceptive marketing and woefully inept engineering.”

Claiming that 90% want Tesla FSD banned, the commercial ends with the question “why does NHTSA allows Tesla Full-Self Driving.” The Dawn Project which was founded by Dan O’Dowd has been a vocal critic of Tesla FSD in the past also.

Musk Believes FSD Prices Would Rise Multi-Fold

Musk meanwhile sees FSD as a key driver and predicted that its price would eventually rise to $100,000. Many Tesla bulls also like the stock for its software capabilities. There is a guide on how to buy Tesla stock.

Last year, Tesla extended FSD to all North American buyers. In the fourth quarter of 2022, it earned $300 million from FSD sales and said that nearly 400,000 customers in North America have the software.

During Tesla’s Q4 2022 earnings call, Musk said that he does not see any company which is even a “distant second” to Tesla in self-driving. He added, “I don’t think you could see a second place with a telescope, at least we can’t.”

All said, while companies like Baidu have started offering robotaxis, Tesla’s robotaxi project has missed several timelines. Also, the recurring crashes involving the company’s self-driving system show that it still remains a work in progress.

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