Tesla Says Model X Automatic Door Getting Ripped Off By Truck Was Owner's Fault

A Tesla Model X owner put the company on blast by claiming the car’s door opened automatically before being ripped off by an oncoming truck, an incident captured clearly on tape by a security camera. But Tesla says its own data indicates that it was clearly user error, and while the incident is unfortunate, it’s a good reminder of why you should know how to use your car’s features properly.

In the 21-second clip, you can see the Tesla’s back lights start to flash, meaning some action was initiated either by the electric SUV’s key fob or the automaker’s mobile app. Then, the doors start to open just seconds before a big-rig truck comes into the frame.

Unfortunate incident, for sure, but luckily no one was hurt. But the owner and Tesla have since butted heads over exactly why the doors opened in the first place. Tesla says the owner’s story has changed and that data from the car shows the onus is on him; the owner disputes Tesla’s version of events.


The owner, Sam Kovac, told CarAdvice he bought the car this year. And on the day of the accident, nothing unusual transpired. Here’s more from CarAdvice, which first published the video:

“At about 2:30 p.m., while in consultation with a distressed owner of a sick pet, a nurse tapped me on my shoulder that something disastrously wrong had happened to my pride and joy.

“I walked out to the Princes Hwy to find my front door completely torn off the driver’s side, with leather and plastic strewn over the bitumen for the next 50 metres past my car.

“I met with a shaky truck driver who said that he was petrified as the Model X door opened into his truck and he thought he had killed the driver.”

Kovac told the news outlet that his vehicle was locked and his key fob was “more than 25 meters away” in a veterinary clinic. He had to pay for a tow truck to transport the vehicle to a Tesla repair center, but it took more than a week for Tesla to answer questions about what happened, CarAdvice reported.

Tesla shot back, and said there’s way more to the story.

“Model X contains an optional convenience feature whereby when the user double-clicks on the vehicle key fob, the driver-side front door will both unlock and open automatically. A second double-click on the vehicle key fob unlocks and opens the passenger-side front door,” the representative said.


Tesla says the vehicle’s “automatic door” feature was indeed enabled, but that the doors only open with a complicated procedure on the key fob.

“Our data records clearly show that the customer had this feature set to ‘on’ at the time of the incident, and that both front doors of the car were unlocked and opened via two double-clicks of the key fob, four consecutive clicks, within operating proximity to the car.”


Kovac said the automatic door feature was on by default when he bought the car, and that he didn’t press the key fob, citing the security footage. Tesla also says Kovac’s story has changed and that he admitted to pressing the key fob in the first place.

Technology is hard.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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Tesla’s key fob is like a toy model of the car where clicking on the roof locks and unlocks the door, and clicking on the frunk or trunk open the respective areas on the car. Since the lock/unlock key is the highest point on the model and the buttons aren’t recessed, I wonder if just walking with the fob jammed into a tight pair of pants might cause erroneous clicks as the pocket is compressed between the pant material and the leg.