Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

NHTSA Opens Probe Into Tesla's Autopilot Technology After Series Of Crashes

By The Daily Upside – Aug 16, 2021 at 9:00PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

It doesn't take a soothsayer to divine that electric vehicles are the future of the automobile industry. But when will the EV takeover reach...

For more crisp and insightful business and economic news, subscribe to The Daily Upside newsletter. It's completely free and we guarantee you'll learn something new every day.

It doesn't take a soothsayer to divine that electric vehicles are the future of the automobile industry. But when will the EV takeover reach terminal velocity?

For Tesla, the drive to an all-autonomous, battery-powered future just hit another detour. On Monday, U.S. auto safety regulators opened a formal safety probe into Elon Musk's car company, investigating its Autopilot program in the aftermath of a series of eyebrow-raising crashes.

Unresponsive To First Responders

It will be difficult to pin Tesla's Autopilot accidents on the mistakes of other drivers, considering how often they involve stationary vehicles parked on the roadside. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which opened the probe, Tesla models have crashed into 11 roadside first responder scenes since January 2018, resulting in 17 injuries and one death. The trend has sparked fears the Autopilot function struggles to compute flashing emergency vehicle lights, road flares, and traffic cones — especially at night.

The NHTSA's probe spans an estimated 765,000 Tesla vehicles in the U.S. and could lead to a costly recall. But it isn't the first time Tesla has faced its share of regulatory scrutiny:

  • In February, per a rare formal NHTSA request, Tesla recalled 134,951 Model S and Model X cars after it was discovered potential touchscreen display failures could raise the risk of a crash.
  • In June, Tesla recalled 285,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in China after discovering a glitch that mistakenly engaged the vehicle's cruise control systems.

Despite the continued headaches, Musk insists that Tesla's with Autopilot have a roughly "10 times lower chance of accident" than the average vehicle.

Parallel Problems: Tesla isn't the only EV company with self-driving woes. China-based competitor NIO saw its share drop 5% in premarket trading Monday following reports of a fatal crash pinned on its autopilot features.

Detroit Doubles Down: In a joint statement, Ford, GM, and Stellantis announced a "shared aspiration" to see electric vehicles achieve 40% to 50% of annual U.S. car sales by 2030. Their production schedules, however, seem to indicate otherwise. Through at least 2028, the companies still plan to produce more combustion-engine trucks and SUVs than EVs.


Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Nearly 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/30/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.