Investigators are looking into the cause of a fatal Tesla Model X crash and subsequent fire in California, the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reportedly said.
The agency told Reuters that it had opened an investigation into the crash, which took place last week. Local reports indicated that the road was closed for six hours after the crash because the local fire brigade was unsure if the car’s battery would explode.
The driver appears to have died of his injuries after being taken to hospital.
Tesla’s share price then tumbled by 8.2 per cent when the news of the investigation came out. Several news outlets also noted that - separately - Nvidia, supplier of AI software and chips to self-driving trials around the world, including the US, Germany and Japan, suffered a similar (7.8 per cent) dip in share price when it announced that it was halting trials using its technology.
Tesla said, in a blog post on its website, that it does not “yet know what happened in the moments leading up to the accident,” adding that it does not know the cause, either.
“Due to the extensive damage caused by the collision, we have not yet been able to retrieve the vehicle’s logs,” said the firm’s statement. It also claimed that a crash barrier protecting the concrete wall which the Tesla hit had been removed prior to the accident – as well as paraphrasing what it said were witness statements about the speed of the battery fire’s spread.
The NTSB has no powers to order a general recall of cars if its investigation uncovers a flaw in the Tesla Autopilot software.
Tesla’s financial results have been less than stellar over the past few quarters, with the company posting its largest ever quarterly loss at the end of the last calendar year and this investigation may serve as an unwelcome distraction. ®