Tesla’s sudden accelerations were user error, US government says

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ended a year-long review of claims that some Tesla vehicles were accelerating without warning, saying there is not enough evidence to open a full investigation. While NHTSA received 246 complaints about this “sudden unintended acceleration” phenomenon, the agency says that “pedal misapplication” was the cause of the problem in every case in which it had data to review — user error, in other words.

“There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the cited incidents,” the agency wrote in a summary published Friday. “There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication. The theory provided of a potential electronic cause of SUA in the subject vehicles is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data.”

Claims of so-called “sudden unintended acceleration” have dogged Tesla for years. The company settled most of a purported class action lawsuit in 2018 over the issue. NHTSA says it collected crash data and video from cars’ “black box” event data recorders and from Tesla itself. While 246 cases were reported, the agency did not specify the amount of cases for which it collected data. The issue was thought to affect some 662,000 vehicles across Tesla’s lineup.

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