Teslas only accelerate when you want them to, the company said in a blog post Monday. The post was made in response to a complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleging Tesla’s cars were having accidents because they accelerated unintentionally.
It is not known what group or person submitted the request to the federal agency, but Tesla blamed it on a “short-seller,” someone who makes money when the price of a stock drops. There are many Tesla short sellers.
“This petition is completely false and was brought by a Tesla short-seller,” the company wrote in the post.
The petition cited more than 100 complaints submitted to the NHTSA saying cars had accelerated on their own resulting in accidents. At least 52 people were injured in crashes. Nearly all the cases involved someone in a Tesla Model S, Model X or Model 3 pulling into or out of a parking space, driveway or garage, according review of the complaints by CNN Business.
Tesla had previously discussed the majority of the cases with the NHTSA, the company said in its blog post. In every case, Tesla said, the car was responding to driver inputs, either intentional or not, and not accelerating on its own.
“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,” Tesla said in its blog post.
Tesla cars and SUVs have numerous sensors that can detect and record how the car is being driven, including how a driver is using various controls and how the car is responding. In many cases when drivers alleged that the car had accelerated on its own, the driver was actually pressing on the accelerator pedal and not the brake, the company said.
“While accidents caused by a mistaken press of the accelerator pedal have been alleged for nearly every make/model of vehicle on the road, the accelerator pedals in Model S, X and 3 vehicles have two independent position sensors, and if there is any error, the system defaults to cut off motor torque,” the company said.
Applying the brake pedal along with the accelerator will also result in motor power being cut, the company said. Other sensors also detect situations in which it is clear an accelerator press is accidental and the car will automatically cut motor power, Tesla said in its blog post.
“In other words, the car accelerates if, and only if, the driver told it to do so,” the company said in its blog post, “and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake.”
NHTSA’s office, which investigates such complaints, said Friday that it is looking into the allegations. It has not yet said if it is going to initiate a formal defect investigation.