Tesla claims ignorance of SEC probe after fatal accident | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 12.07.2016
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Business

Tesla claims ignorance of SEC probe after fatal accident

The electric carmaker says it has not been informed of an investigation by the US financial market regulator into allegations that Tesla kept a deadly crash secret from investors ahead of issuing new shares.

Following a report in Monday's edition of Wall Street Journal that Tesla is being probed for a breach of US securities law, a spokesman for the electric carmaker said Tesla had not received "any communication from the SEC" regarding the Autopilot-related clash.

"Our blog post last week provided the relevant information about this issue," the spokesperson said, pointing to a Tesla press release on June 30 in which it disclosed the accident for the first time that asserted the May 7 crash didn't require disclosure to investors.

According to WSJ, the US Securities and Exchange Commission SEC is currently looking into whether Tesla failed to disclose to investors a fatal car accident in May involving an electric car that was driving itself. The driver was killed when his Tesla S car - operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode - collided with a tractor trailer that pulled in front of him on a Florida highway.

However, Tesla didn't disclose the crash in a securities filing to investors on May 18, when it prepared to sell $2 billion worth of fresh stock, including nearly 2.8 million shares sold by Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.

In a blog post last week, Tesla said its Autopilot system has been safely used in more than 100 million miles of driving, and that the crash wasn't "materially significant" because it didn't change what Tesla had said about the Autopilot's "capabilities and limitations."

Masterplan part two

Earlier this month, Tesla admitted there was a second accident with a Tesla car driving on Autopilot. The owner of a Model X - Tesla's newest, SUV-styled model - said the car was using Autopilot when it crashed and rolled over.

Meanwhile, the electric carmaker is preparing an updated "secret masterplan" in response to concerns over the safety of its semi-autonomous driving technology. On Sunday, CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter that the new roadmap for the California company would be coming this week.

"Working on Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2. Hoping to publish later this week," he wrote.

The plan would be an update to Musk's first strategy announced in 2006 when he promised "an electric car without compromises" and a long-term vision of building "affordably priced family cars."

Since then, Tesla has launched its first electric car in 2008 called the Roadster followed in 2012 by the Model S, which has gained global appeal among wealthy buyers willing to pay more than $70,000 for the car. This year, the company has unveiled plans for its more affordable Model 3 which has already received more than 300,000 pre-orders, according to Tesla.

As a result, the carmaker plans to ramp up production and wants to build a "gigafactory" in Nevada to produce special car batteries.

uhe/kd (AP, AFP, dpa, WSJ)

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