A Tesla Model X driver involved in a Montana crash earlier this month put the blame on the car’s Autopilot capabilities, later claiming that Tesla was trying to cover up issues with the system. But a public response by the manufacturer suggests that the car isn’t the one with the piloting issues.
The original understanding about the wreck was that the Model X crashed into a guardrail during the night hours, reportedly with Autopilot engaged. An account of the crash said that the car failed to detect wooden stakes on the road and lost a tire at 60 mph, hitting a guardrail and leaving the car “completely destroyed.”
Both occupants were OK following the wreck. Tesla later shared data that the car had its Autosteer feature enabled before the crash, but suggested the driver’s hands weren’t on the steering wheel. Driver-assist technologies like Autopilot require a periodic tap of the wheel in order to ensure the driver is still attentive, and the statement added that Tesla “advises against using Autosteer on high speeds or undivided roads such as the one in the Montana crash.”
The driver, identifying himself as “Mr. Pang,” wrote an open letter to Tesla in response to the crash itself and their assessment of it. Mr. Pang claimed that Tesla issued their conclusions on the crash before attempting to contact him, that the company was not interested in learning why the system sent him into a barrier, and that it tried to “cover up the lack of dependability of the autopilot system.”
But Tesla claimed that they have been trying to contact Mr. Pang, using a Tesla employee fluent in Mandarin. The parties apparently spoke through a translator on the Monday morning following the crash to discuss the wellbeing of both Mr. Pang and the passenger, according to the post, but could not reach him on later attempts to discuss the crash itself.
Mr. Pang said in the open letter that he was “willing to talk to Tesla concerning the accident anytime, anywhere, in front of the public” about the wreck, but that’s not what Tesla said to have occurred when they reached out again.
The Tesla statement posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum said the company was able to contact Mr. Pang’s wife after the first discussion, but was unable to reach him for a follow up on several occasions—before the release of the crash assessment and after.
Here’s a breakdown of Tesla’s understanding of the wreck, as posted on the forum:
The post from Tesla concluded by saying that the company is still trying to get into contact with Mr. Pang, and asked for him to contact Tesla for any further questions he has.