AUTOPILOT ROW: Fortune magazine says Tesla founder Elon Musk delayed releasing information regarding the death of an owner of Model S who was killed while using the vehicle's Auto Pilot mode. Image: AP / Francois Mori
New York - US highway safety officials said on Wednesday that it is investigating a second crash of a Tesla car that may have been operating on the vehicle's pioneering self-drive Autopilot technology.
This follows a week after a fatal Florida crash came to light involving the luxury electric car's Autopilot hands-free system and owner Joshua Brown.
An article featured in Fortune magazine, claims that Tesla should have disclosed the death of Brown, who was killed while driving his Model S with its Autopilot system activated.
Understandably, the article caught the attention of founder Elon Musk.
The Fortune article published on July 5, says that Tesla and Musk did not disclose that Brown was killed while using the automaker's self-driving technology, a system that Tesla had "marketed vigorously as safe and important to its customers".
On July 6, Tesla published a statement, labelled 'Misfortune', responding to the claims made in the Fortune article:
"First, Fortune mischaracterises Tesla's SEC filing. Here is what Tesla's SEC filing actually says: "We may become subject to product liability claims, which could harm our financial condition and liquidity if we are not able to successfully defend or insure against such claims."
The automaker posted the following:"Here's what we did know at the time of the accident and subsequent filing:
1 That Tesla Autopilot had been safely used in over 100 million miles of driving by tens of thousands of customers worldwide, with zero confirmed fatalities and a wealth of internal data demonstrating safer, more predictable vehicle control performance when the system is properly used.
2 That contrasted against worldwide accident data, customers using Autopilot are statistically safer than those not using it at all.
3 That given its nature as a driver assistance system, a collision on Autopilot was a statistical inevitability, though by this point, not one that would alter the conclusion already borne out over millions of miles that the system provided a net safety benefit to society."
Musk then tweeted editor of Fortune magazine Alan Murray: