NHTSA Says Tesla “Phantom Braking” Incidents More Than Doubled Since February, Amidst Ongoing Investigation
Shares of Tesla were already plunging in pre-market trading on Friday morning after CEO Elon Musk warned of job cuts at the company – and now they are falling further after a report that the the U.S. has received 758 complaints on the vehicles’ unexpected braking for 2021-2022 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.
Shares fell as much as 5% in the pre-market session on the news.
Unexpected braking complaints were up from just 354 complaints in February, according to a May 4 letter the NHTSA sent to Tesla’s Field Quality Director Eddie Gates, Bloomberg reported in a separate wrap up Friday morning.
The issue of phantom braking in Tesla vehicles has long been discussed as a potential safety hazard, along with other wonderful features of Tesla’s Full Self Driving. Remember, we wrote back in February that the NHTSA was looking at over 416,000 Teslas over “phantom braking”.
The agency had opened a formal investigation into 416,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles over reports of unexpected brake activation at high speeds when driver-assistance system Autopilot is engaged.
NHTSA said the investigation was being opened after it received 354 complaints about “rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.” No crashes or injuries have stemmed from the braking issue.
That number has now more than doubled and Tesla must respond to the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation by June 20, the report says.
We also noted back in February that the NHTSA reviewed complaints from drivers about ‘phantom braking’ on highways resulting in near-collisions.
One unidentified 2021 Tesla Model 3 driver in Madison, Wisconsin, complained about his unexpected braking incident on a major highway last month. “I was driving north on Wisconsin route 14 at about 60 mph in my Tesla model 3 using the cruise control,” the driver said, adding that the sudden braking almost sparked an accident.
An unidentified 2021 Tesla Model Y driver in Texas had a similar experience.
“When driving on a two-lane road and approaching an oncoming 18 wheeler the cruise control consistently slams on the brakes and I am concerned about the well-being of my 5- and 4- year-old in the back seat,” the driver said. “It whips them forward. I am also concerned about cars following me and getting rear-ended with the force it is applying this phantom braking.”
The issue occurs when the car’s advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) registers a false positive and believes it should quickly hit the emergency brakes, which can then cause safety hazards for other drivers, especially if it takes place on crowded highways. Here’s a summary of NHTSA’s new probe focused on phantom braking.
Here’s a summary of NHTSA’s new probe focused on phantom braking.
According to The Verge, the issue is “most closely associated with Tesla’s SAE Level 2 ADAS systems, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta”.
Recall, earlier this morning it was also reported that Musk told his staff to “pause all hiring worldwide” in an email Thursday and said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy. On top of that, he shared his desire to cut 10% of jobs at Tesla, according to Reuters.
“Musk has warned in recent weeks about the risks of recession, but his email ordering a hiring freeze and staff cuts was the most direct and high-profile message of its kind from the head of an automaker,” Reuters reported.
This would amount to roughly 10,000 layoffs, as Tesla currently has about 100,000 employees.
And earlier this week, Musk had demanded that all employees return to the office instead of working from home.
“Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla,” Musk wrote in a company email that was leaked this week.
“Remote work is no longer acceptable,” was the name of the email. In it, Musk put his employees to a choice: return to your desks and offices or start finding work elsewhere. The email was reported on by Fortune.
“This is less than [what] we ask of factory workers,” Musk added, possibly in a nod to the company’s Shanhai factory, which had Chinese staff building cars during 12 hour shifts and sleeping on factory floors due to Covid lockdowns.
“If there are particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly,” Musk wrote. “Moreover, the ‘office’ must be a main Tesla office, not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties…”
Said one well known short seller…
So $TSLA is now a cyclical car company?
Okay, well those currently sell at around 6x earnings. https://t.co/qc9J8AiCoT
— Stanphyl Capital (@StanphylCap) June 3, 2022
Fri, 06/03/2022 – 09:07