Ralph Nader calls on NHTSA to recall Tesla’s ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ FSD – TechCrunch
Political and consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader released a statement calling Tesla‘s “so-called” Complete Self-Driving (FSD) technology “one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions of a car manufacturer for decades”.
Nader is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to use its safety recall authority to order that FSD technology be removed from every Tesla. According to recent statements by CEO Elon Musk, this represents approximately 100,000 vehicles.
The author of the best-selling book ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’, which was critical of the US auto industry, cited research that found FSD malfunctions every eight minutes. This research was published in January by The Dawn Project, an organization aimed at banning dangerous software from safety-critical systems that ran a full-page ad in The New York Times about Tesla’s FSD, which analyzed data from 21 YouTube videos of Tesla owners using Beta FSD software.
“This nation should not allow this flawed software that Tesla himself says can do the ‘wrong thing at the worst time’ on the same streets where kids go to school,” Nader wrote. “Together, we must send an urgent message to loss-conscious regulators that Americans should not be test dummies for a powerful, high-profile corporation and its famous CEO. No one is above the law. on manslaughter.
Nader’s call comes as Tesla prepares to release the next version of its FSD software, version 10.69, on August 20. Musk tweeted the announcement, saying nothing about the capabilities of the next iteration other than, “This release will be important.” During Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call, Musk also said Tesla would raise the price of the software and that the automaker hoped to “solve full self-driving” by this year.
Really, Nader should also target Tesla’s Autopilot. Tesla and Musk have been adamant in the past that FSD was not responsible for any accidents or deaths. (However, a recent AI Addict YouTube video shows a Tesla in FSD mode colliding with a bike lane barrier post.) Autopilot, on the other hand, has likely been the cause of several crashes. NHTSA is currently investigating 16 crashes in which Tesla owners potentially engaged Autopilot and then crashed into stationary emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one death. Since 2016, there have been 38 special investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles, 18 of which were fatal.
Other automakers have released similar ADAS technology and, based on NHTSA’s recent ADAS crash report, appear to have significantly fewer crashes. It’s hard to compare how dangerous Tesla’s technology is to its rivals, in part because there are far more ADAS-equipped Teslas on the road than any other vehicle.
NHTSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In two documents filed July 28, the California Department of Motor Vehicles accused Tesla of false advertising to promote its Autopilot and FSD technologies, both of which are advanced driver assistance systems and do not provide fully autonomous driving. While Tesla’s website states that “currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not render the vehicle self-driving,” the DMV told the Los Angeles Times that the disclaimer “contradicts labels and claims false or misleading originals, which is misleading and does not remedy the infringement.
The California DMV also said earlier this year that it was reviewing its approach to regulating Tesla’s autonomous vehicle technology, as the agency does with all other companies that claim to pursue complete self-driving and perform public road testing. Tesla has gotten away with not reporting crashes and system failures to the DMV for so long because its systems fall under the ADAS category, which requires the presence of a human driver. However, after reviewing dozens of videos showing “unsafe use” of the technology — and that use is informed by how Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk talk about the technology — the DMV decided to re-evaluate.
This re-evaluation is ongoing, and the DMV told TechCrunch it cannot comment until it is complete. That said, based on the DMV’s most recent claims that Tesla is falsely advertising, Tesla could face revoking of its licenses to manufacture or sell its cars in California in the worst-case scenario. It probably won’t happen, but if it did, it would cause trouble for the EV maker. California is home to Tesla’s most loyal buyer base.
Musk has had a strained relationship with the state since May 2020, when Alameda County ordered Tesla to close its Fremont factory to stop the spread of COVID. In October of last year, Musk announced that Tesla would move its headquarters to Austin, Texas.
The famed executive has also repeatedly stressed the importance of FSD to the company, saying in June that without it, Tesla was “virtually worth zero.” It is probably based on the belief of many, including Nader, that the FSD is not what it is made out to be; Nader then tweeted on Wednesday that Tesla shares were grossly overvalued.
“Tesla and @elonmusk exposed the technological stagnation of automakers and broke new ground with electric vehicles and other climate-friendly technologies,” tweeted Nader. “However, a fast-moving business cannot overshadow an extremely speculative stock market valuation on top of a general stock market bubble that could implode on the retirement savings and mutual funds of millions of Americans. The fundamentals cannot be ignored.