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Tesla Contrasts Police On Autopilot's Involvement In Texas Incident As Elon Musk Lays Blame On 'Deceptive Media Practices'

Tesla Contrasts Police On Autopilot's Involvement In Texas Incident As Elon Musk Lays Blame On 'Deceptive Media Practices'

Executives from Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) claimed Monday that a driver was involved in the fatal Houston crash that killed two this month, in contrast to the finding presented by authorities that no one was behind the wheel.

What Happened: The revelation was made by executives at Tesla’s Q1 2021 earnings call. The company’s vice president of vehicle engineering Lars Moravy said that Tesla inspected the car with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and local police.

“We were able to find that the steering wheel was indeed deformed. So there must — leading to the likelihood that someone was in the driver seat at the time of the crash and all seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled,” said Moravy.

The executive said that Tesla conducted a study with local authorities over the past week to understand what happened in the Houston crash and learned that auto steer did not and “could not engage on the road condition — as it was designed.”

He said that Tesla’s adaptive cruise control only engages when the driver is wearing a seatbelt and the vehicle is moving above five miles per hour.

Moravy said that the adaptive cruise control disengages the car slowly to a stop when the seat belt is unbuckled.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, during the call, without mentioning the specifics of the Model 3 crash in Texas, said "deceptive media practices" were to be blamed for claiming the vehicle to be on Autopilot when it supposedly wasn't.

"This is completely false and those journalists should be ashamed of themselves," the billionaire entrepreneur said.

Why It Matters: Both the NTSB and the NHTSA are probing the fatal crash, while the latter has formed  Special Crash Investigation teams to look into Tesla crashes related to the Autopilot system.

Musk earlier this month claimed that the car didn't have Autopilot enabled, basing his assessment on data  logs recovered as of that time.

A Harris County police officer, Mark Herman, said in the aftermath of the crash that evidence, including witness statements, indicated there was nobody in the driver’s seat when the Model S crashed into a tree and subsequently caught fire killing its two occupants.

See Also: Self-Driving Tesla Crashes In Fiery Wreck, Suggesting Tesla's Self-Driving Capability Still Needs Work

Last month, Tesla revoked full self-driving beta access for drivers who it claimed did not pay “sufficient attention to the road.”

The FSD is Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system, while the autopilot is the lesser version that is part of all its vehicles.

Tesla reported earnings per share of 93 cents, which beat estimates of 79 cents in the first quarter of 2021. Revenue rose 73.58% to $10.38 billion compared to the same period last year beating estimates of $10.29 billion.

Price Action: Tesla shares fell 2.48% in after-hours trading to $719.86 after closing nearly 1.2% higher at $738.20 in the regular hours on Monday.

Read Next: Musk Says Tesla FSD Subscriptions To Launch By June But Buying Would Still Be Better


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Posted-In: auto accidents electric vehicles Elon Musk EVs Lars MoravyNews Events Tech Best of Benzinga

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