Tesla’s Autopilot system is revolutionary. But is it safe?
With fuel costs skyrocketing along with everything else from groceries to eating out due to inflation, people are more interested in buying electric vehicles than ever before.
This has put billionaire CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report on the map in a big way in the last few years, creating huge demand for the company’s EVs and making them hard to find.
Other car companies making EVs are rushing to fill the gap in the interim, from big names like Toyota (TM) – Get Toyota Motor Corporation Report to smaller companies like Rivian (RIVN) – Get Rivian Automotive Inc. Report.
Early Tesla adopters may be feeling as if they beat the rush, and no doubt they aren’t feeling the sting of painfully high gas prices like the rest of us.
But a forthcoming report from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has gathered some new data on Tesla that may leave some owners feeling less than thrilled with their sleek EVs.
What’s This Data About?
One feature Teslas are known for is their self-driving capabilities, which CEO Elon Musk has long boasted about to captive audiences.
But earlier this month, the NHTSA indicated that it would expand an already active probe into the autopilot feature to include as many as 830,000 Tesla Model Y, X, S, and 3 vehicles sold between 2014 and 2021.
Now, that data is ready for release, and according to a new report from AP News, Tesla’s crash rate per 1,000 vehicles “was substantially higher than the corresponding numbers for other automakers.”
The NHTSA foreshadowed this news last week as well, saying that it had documented over 200 Tesla crashes while using the vehicles’ autopilot features, including Full Self-Driving and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control.
It is also worth noting that Tesla has far more vehicles on the road equipped with partly automated features than any other manufacturer (roughly 830,000).
A Closer Look At The Future of Automated Driving
Tesla was not the only company the NHTSA looked into for data on automated driving systems, as it told more than 100 automakers in June 2021 that it would require them to report any major crashes within a 24-period.
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today exercised its authority by issuing a Standing General Order requiring manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (ADS) to report crashes,” the order read.
“This action will enable NHTSA to collect information necessary for the agency to play its role in keeping Americans safe on the roadways, even as the technology deployed on the nation’s roads continues to evolve.”
General Motors reported three crashes out of the 34,000 vehicles sold since 2017, while Stellantis reported two. Out of 560,000 vehicles on the road using its ProPilot Assist technology, Nissan reported no crashes.
Toyota and Honda declined to release their number in advance of the NHTSA’s final report, which should be released this week.
Tesla has not responded to TheStreet’s request for comment as of the time of this writing.