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Tesla not backing down, still claims Model X crash was the driver’s fault

In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, Tesla and the owner of a Model X involved in a crash a few weeks ago have been involved in a war of words as of late. Last week, a man known as Mr. Pang wrote an open letter to Tesla wherein he blamed the company’s Autopilot software for causing his Model X to spontaneously swerve into a guard rail and ultimately cause him to get into a serious accident.

Immediately following the accident, Tesla issued a statement indicating that Autopilot was not used appropriately at the time of the crash. Mr. Pang, however, effectively said that Tesla was lying and that the company never even tried to contact him in the aftermath of the crash. What’s more, Pang went so far as to categorize Tesla’s Autopilot software as a beta product that should have never been released in the first place. Taking things a bit further, Pang also added that Tesla drivers are unwitting “lab rats” being taken advantage of for Tesla’s own benefit.

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Shots fired.

Never one to shy away from the spotlight or a public controversy, Tesla over the weekend issued a response wherein it laid blame, once again, on the driver.

Originally published on the Tesla Motors Club forum, the letter reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Pang,

We were sorry to hear about your accident, but we were very pleased to learn both you and your friend were ok when we spoke through your translator on the morning of the crash (July 9). On Monday immediately following the crash (July 11), we found a member of the Tesla team fluent in Mandarin and called to follow up. When we were able to make contact with your wife the following day, we expressed our concern and gathered more information regarding the incident. We have since made multiple attempts (one Wednesday, one Thursday, and one Friday) to reach you to discuss the incident, review detailed logs, and address any further concerns and have not received a call back.

As is our standard procedure with all incidents experienced in our vehicles, we have conducted a thorough investigation of the diagnostic log data transmitted by the vehicle. Given your stated preference to air your concerns in a public forum, we are happy to provide a brief analysis here and welcome a return call from you. From this data, we learned that after you engaged Autosteer, your hands were not detected on the steering wheel for over two minutes. This is contrary to the terms of use when first enabling the feature and the visual alert presented you every time Autosteer is activated. As road conditions became increasingly uncertain, the vehicle again alerted you to put your hands on the wheel. No steering torque was then detected until Autosteer was disabled with an abrupt steering action. Immediately following detection of the first impact, adaptive cruise control was also disabled, the vehicle began to slow, and you applied the brake pedal.

Following the crash, and once the vehicle had come to rest, the passenger door was opened but the driver door remained closed and the key remained in the vehicle. Since the vehicle had been left in Drive with Creep Mode enabled, the motor continued to rotate. The diagnostic data shows that the driver door was later opened from the outside and the vehicle was shifted to park. We understand that at night following a collision the rotating motors may have been disconcerting, even though they were only powered by minimal levels of creep torque. We always seek to learn from customer concerns, and we are looking into this behavior to see if it can be improved. We are also continually studying means of better encouraging drivers to adhere to the terms of use for our driver assistance features.

We are still seeking to speak with you. Please contact Tesla service so that we can answer any further questions you may have.

The Tesla team

And now we wait for an inevitable response from Mr. Pang.

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