Fisker Is the Latest Automaker to Have Phantom Braking Problems

Tesla and Honda have had similar issues recently

Fisker Ocean
The Fisker Ocean isn't alone in having strange braking issues.

In late April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formalized something that’s already been in the works for years, mandating that automatic emergency braking be standard for all new vehicles sold beginning in 2029. The safety reasoning behind this understandable: if an automated system can reduce collisions, it’ll create a safer atmosphere for drivers and pedestrians alike. But what happens when a vehicle with this feature enables brakes for no apparent reason?

That very question has prompted the NHTSA to open an investigation of Fisker, the EV startup that’s already not having a great year. Citing eight complaints, the agency’s announcement includes some unsettling details about what drivers have experienced. “The braking applications range from momentary, partial application resulting in rapid loss of speed to full application, which brings the vehicle to a complete stop in the travel lane,” the agency stated.

Alternately, a system designed to reduce the risk of accidents is actually increasing the risk of accidents — which seems counterproductive, to say the least. While this news adds to Fisker’s 2024 woes, the automaker can at least take some comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone in having phantom braking issues. The NHTSA has also investigated Tesla and Honda for similar issues in recent years.

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Phantom braking also illustrates the challenges of automating emergency braking. Like optimizing self-driving features, the technical issues involved serve as a reminder of just how many variables there are when it comes to driving. And finding solutions that don’t further complicate matters isn’t always easy, for established automakers and startups alike.

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