Vehicles | January 9, 2021 7:00 am

Government Agency Attributes Tesla’s Sudden Acceleration to “Pedal Misapplication”

Good news for the automaker

Tesla Inc's logo is seen on its Model 3 electric vehicle on December 27, 2020 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

Does a design issue cause various Tesla Motors vehicles to accelerate suddenly and without warning? Concerns that one might have this effect have haunted the electric vehicle manufacturer for the last year. In January 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that it would review a petition asking it to investigate this phenomenon.

A year later, the agency has completed its review — and its conclusions are encouraging news for Tesla. At The Verge, Sean O’Kane reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not find enough evidence to merit a full investigation.

The agency did receive 246 complaints detailing acceleration issues, but found that all of them could be explained via “pedal misapplication.” (Otherwise known as “user error,” as O’Kane concisely phrases it.)

The petition that prompted the NHTSA’s review is itself the subject of some controversy. As O’Kane notes in the article, the petition came from an investor who was shorting Tesla’s stock. Tesla addressed this via a blog post last January.

In the automaker’s response, it stressed its transparency with the NHTSA, and offered an explanation of why random acceleration was unlikely. “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 wrote.

It’s an end to one hotly-debated period in the company’s history — and it coincides with some other good news Tesla has had recently.

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