Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover is not going well, but the billionaire’s mood won’t get better as Tesla has reported two new fatal crashes involving advanced driver assistant systems in autonomous vehicles.
The carmaker reported the Tesla’s Model 3 car crashes to American auto safety regulator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) itself. The reports come on the back of the NHTSA issuing an order in July 2021, commanding autonomous vehicle makers to immediately report crashes on public roads.
Since then, 18 crashes were reported to the NHTSA. Nearly all crashes involved Tesla’s autonomous vehicles.
The news have added fuel to the blaze of criticism facing Musk’s car company.
“Tesla’s Full Self-Driving product is the worst commercial software I have ever seen,” Dan O’Dowd, founder of safety-critical software campaigner The Dawn Project and long-term Tesla critic, tells Verdict. He’s the guy who caused an uproar this summer by releasing a video showing a Tesla Model 3 driving over a child mannequin.
The news comes after the US’s National Transportation Safety Board was highly critical of Tesla and the NHTSA last year for ignoring its self-driving safety recommendations.
In the long run, market watchers believe Tesla’s brand could take a beating as the number of crash reports grow.
“[The] main commercial risk for Tesla is that its systems will increasingly be seen as unsafe, damaging its reputation in premium segments,” Peter Kelly, managing director at research firm GlobalData, tells Verdict. “Reputationally damaging accident reports or legal cases brought by injured drivers or the families of those fatally injured could accelerate this.”
Autonomous vehicles deals fall from 2021 peak
The news comes as venture capital funding into autonomous vehicle projects have fallen in 2022.
So far in 2022, 80 venture financing deals have brought a combined $2.2bn into the autonomous vehicles market, according to GlobalData. This is a significant decline compared to the 103 deals secured 2021 worth over $19.6bn.