Tesla informed France no signal of technical fault in Paris crash, govt says By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen on a Paris taxi in Paris, France, Dec. 14, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier

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By Mathieu Rosemain and Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) – Tesla has informed the French government that there is no evidence that a fatal accident involving a Tesla (NASDAQ 🙂 Model 3 taxi in Paris was caused by a technical defect, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Parisian taxi company G7 stopped using the 37 Model 3 vehicles in its fleet after the accident on Saturday evening in which one of its drivers was involved.

One person was killed in the crash and twenty injured, three of them seriously, according to a person close to the investigation.

“We have of course contacted the management of Tesla and they tell us that there is no technical problem to mark their vehicles,” said government spokesman Gabriel Attal to reporters.

He added that the government is awaiting the outcome of the ongoing judicial investigation.

Still in shock four days after the accident, witnesses told Reuters the car was plowed by metal posts, a number of paid bicycles, a glass-filled recycling bin, and hit pedestrians and a van before it finally came to a stop.

“I thought it was an attack. There was glass, dust … it was like there was an explosion,” said Tillard Diomande, who was serving customers behind his bar in a nearby restaurant.

The vehicle, which had stopped at a red light, suddenly sped forward, attracting a cyclist who later died, a police source said, citing the driver’s own version of the events, witnesses and video surveillance.

The driver, who later tested negative on an alcohol test, deliberately steered the car against obstacles, including trash cans, to bring it to a stop, the police source said.

It wasn’t clear if the car was operating in Tesla’s autopilot mode, which does some driving duties.

NO SAFETY WARNINGS

Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told RMC Radio that he had spoken to the CEO of Tesla Europe, who told him there had been no Model 3 safety warnings.

He added that the automaker, which is collecting detailed data from its vehicles’ sensors and cameras, told him that it had provided investigators with the relevant technical data.

Tesla, which is at the forefront of the electric and self-driving vehicle revolution and has a market value of nearly $ 1 trillion, has not responded to requests for comment.

Deputy G7 chief Yann Ricordel told Reuters that the accident occurred when an off-duty taxi driver was taking his family to a restaurant. The driver tried to brake but the car accelerated instead, Ricordel said.

A judicial source said that a preliminary investigation into the negligent homicide of the driver had been initiated.

The video of the scene, obtained from Reuters, showed the wreck of a black Tesla and debris scattered on the street. The left side of the vehicle was wrinkled, the left front wheel collapsed and the windshield shattered.

The car had apparently crashed into a white van that suffered front damage. Other footage circulating on social media showed how the public cared for the wounded and shocked passers-by after the accident.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was voted “Person of the Year” 2021 by both Time Magazine and the Financial Times because he initiated a historic shift in the auto industry towards electric vehicles and sent rockets into orbit with his space company.

Tesla’s Model 3 led European auto sales in September, marking the first time an electric vehicle has done so on the monthly charts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced in August that it had dispatched teams to review 31 Tesla crashes with 10 fatalities since 2016 that were suspected of using advanced driver assistance systems.

It excluded autopilot in three of the crashes.

Last year, the NHTSA opened a formal review of over 200 complaints about sudden acceleration in Tesla cars, but regulators later said they found no defects in Tesla’s systems and said the accidents were caused by “pedal misoperation.”

Musk has repeatedly defended autopilot, tweeting in April that “Tesla is now ten times less likely to crash than the average vehicle with autopilot on.”

Tesla advises drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be careful when using the autopilot.

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