Auto crisis erupts in Tesla cars, complaints mount

Auto crisis erupts in Tesla cars, complaints mount

German-language newspaper Handelsblatt said it received 100GB of data from “several whistleblowers” at Tesla, showing the company has received thousands of complaints about Autopilot features over the years. According to Jalopnik, the collection contains 23,000 internal files with complaints from 2015 to March 2022. During this time, the automaker reportedly received 2,400 reports of personal acceleration problems and 1,500 cases of brake function problems. The latter included 139 complaints about emergency braking and 383 complaints about phantom stops caused by false collision warnings.

Additionally, the files reportedly include more than 1,000 accident reports and a table of 3,000 incidents where drivers had raised safety concerns about Tesla’s driver assistance system. Although most of the reported incidents took place in the United States, some complaints came from car owners in Europe and Asia. Handelsblatt said it contacted several customers from the file to confirm their reports, and some were able to share video.

In addition to containing information about thousands of security complaints, the files reportedly included instructions for employees on how to contact customers. Apparently, employees were instructed not to copy and paste incident reports into e-mails or text messages, and not to leave the information in voicemail recordings. They can only convey information to customers through word of mouth.

In a letter explaining why the publication decided to publish the information in the Tesla files, Handelsblatt Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Matthes said a 12-person team spent six months reviewing and evaluating the files. “For example, with Autopilot. Tesla files contain thousands of reports of problems with driver assistance systems. Complaints of Tesla cars braking suddenly at full speed. Or suddenly accelerating,” he wrote.

He said his team sent Tesla a long list of questions, but the automaker chose not to respond. Instead, Joseph Alm, Tesla’s Chief Litigation Counsel, told the publication that the data was stolen and, except in exceptional circumstances, illegally obtained information is not allowed to appear in the media. Alm also said in a response to the publication (via Electrek) that the company believes a “disgruntled former employee” used his access as a service technician “to leak information in violation of the confidentiality agreement he signed” before leaving the company. Tesla plans to sue this former employee for “stealing Tesla’s confidential information and employee personal data.”