A German news outlet sifted through over 23,000 of Tesla’s internal files and found a disturbing trend of brushing off customers complaining about dangerous Autopilot glitches while covering the company’s ass.
The publication Handelsblatt got its hands on the data through an unnamed informant. Handelsblatt confirmed the data’s authenticity with Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology, which found no evidence of doctoring or fabrication in the files. Tesla attempted to stop the publication from using this data in its reporting and even threatened legal action against Handelsblatt. The publication, however, decided this was one of the extraordinary circumstances when reporting on such a data breach would be legal under European Union law.
It posted “My autopilot almost killed me”: Tesla files cast doubt on Elon Musk’s promises on Thursday. The story is both in German and behind a paywall, but the English translation is of excellent quality. Here’s a bit of the meat of it:
The Tesla files contain more than 2,400 self-acceleration complaints and more than 1,500 braking function problems, including 139 cases of unintentional emergency braking and 383 reported phantom stops resulting from false collision warnings. The number of crashes is more than 1000. A table of incidents involving driver assistance systems where customers have expressed safety concerns has more than 3000 entries.
The oldest complaints available to the Handelsblatt date from 2015, the most recent from March 2022. During this period, Tesla delivered around 2.6 million vehicles with the autopilot software. Most of the incidents took place in the US , but there are also complaints from Europe and Asia in the documents - including many from German Tesla drivers.
The Handelsblatt contacted dozens of customers from several countries. All confirmed the information from the Tesla files. In discussions, they gave insights into their experiences with the autopilot. Some disclosed their communication with the US automaker, others showed Handelsblatt reporters videos of the accident.