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Tesla Knew About Autopilot Death When It Sold $2 Billion In Stock In May

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Tesla Motors was aware a man died using the company’s autopilot technology in May when it sold $2 billion in stock in an effort to raise capital to produce the Model 3, Fortune Magazine reported Tuesday.

Tesla said it “immediately” notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the accident and death of Joshua Brown, Tesla said in a statement issued June 30. Brown was killed when his Model S collided with a tractor-trailer.

NHTSA chose to sit on the information until announcing in late June.

Less than two weeks after Brown died, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk sold more than $2 billion of Tesla stock in a public offering at a price of $215 per share—the electric vehicle company did all of this without notifying its shareholders or the public about the wreck.

Musk argued in an email to Fortune Magazine Tuesday the wreck “is not material to the value of Tesla.”

Musk admonished Fortune for what he thought was misleading the public about the safety of Tesla’s self-driving technology.

“Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.”

News that Tesla hid information about the wreck from the public comes as shareholders and investors continue to fret the company’s business model may hurt its value.

CtW Investor Group, a group holding 200,000 shares of Tesla, raised warning bells in June, said the market’s “hostile reaction” to Tesla’s proposed merger to solar panel company SolarCity was induced, in part, by the group’s recognition that Donald Kendall, chief executive of investment management firm Kenmont, is the only person on the SolarCity board without deep-rooted ties to Musk.

Six out of seven board members with the solar panel company have direct connections with Elon Musk, the CEO and chairman of both companies.

“This is particularly questionable when six out of our seven board members have ties to SolarCity,” a CtW letter to Tesla noted. “This raises a serious question about whose interests the board is serving — the stockholders of Tesla or the stockholders of SolarCity.”

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