Tesla reportedly faces another federal probe related to fatal crash

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Tesla should have disclosed the incident as a "material" event to investors, according to a report.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Telsa is facing another federal probe related to the fatal Florida crash involving its Autopilot feature, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, the advanced autonomous driving feature may have been involved in two other recent crashes.

Telsa publicly disclosed in a June 30 blog post that the Autopilot feature was engaged during a fatal crash that occurred in Williston, Fla., in May. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation into the incident.

Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a preliminary probe into whether Tesla should have disclosed the incident as a "material" event to investors earlier, The Wall Street Journalreports. The company could have mentioned it in its May 18 securities filing, which came after Tesla reported the crash to the NHTSA. As The Wall Street Journal notes, Tesla sold off $2 billion in stock on May 18 and May 19, including nearly 2.8 million shares sold by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Tesla said Musk sold the shares due to tax requirements.

Tesla told ZDNet that it has not received any communication from the SEC regarding this issue. After Fortune wrote two articles questioning whether Tesla broke securities laws, the company responded with its own lengthy blog post.

"When Tesla told NHTSA about the accident on May 16th, we had barely started our investigation," the blog post said. It noted drivers had logged more than 100 million miles with Autopilot engaged before there was a fatal accident. Furthermore, it called a collision on Autopilot a "statistical inevitability".

The company asserted, "News of a statistical inevitability did not materially change any statements previously made about the Autopilot system, its capabilities, or net impact on roadway safety."

Since the fatal crash was disclosed, two other non-fatal crashes occurred that may have involved Autopilot. On July 1, a driver was injured when his 2016 Tesla Model X SUV struck a concrete median strip in Pennsylvania. A police officer told the Detroit Free Press the driver said the Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident. Meanwhile, a Tesla driver in Montana similarly said the Autopilot feature was on during a July 9 crash.

Editorial standards