Elon Musk: Reports Tesla Hid Info On Autopilot Death Are ‘BS’

(REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk pushed back against reports questioning why it took nearly two months for the company to acknowledge a fatal wreck involving its self-driving feature.

Fortune Magazine published two reports alleging a May 7 wreck killing Model S owner Joshua Brown was “material” information that should have been disclosed by Tesla before selling more than $2 billion of stock in a public offering at a price of $215 per share.

Musk blithely dismissed the allegations, calling the reports “BS” in a tweet Tuesday. Tesla followed suit in a blog post titled “Misfortune,” which argued the wreck was not material information and laid out what and when the company knew about Brown’s death. It also said the Fortune articles were sensationalist nonsense that “mischaracterized” the company’s SEC filings.

“One of the risks facing Tesla (or any company) is that someone could bring product liability claims against it. However, neither at the time of this SEC filing nor in the several weeks to date has anyone brought a product liability claim against Tesla relating to the crash in Florida,” Tesla said in a blog post Wednesday.

Musk, for his part, told Fortune in an email Tuesday that the media outlet was also 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.”

The automaker essentially argued it had little knowledge at the time about what led up to the wreck, and refused to speculate as to what caused Brown’s death until after a full investigation.

“When Tesla told NHTSA [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] about the accident on May 16th, we had barely started our investigation. Tesla informed NHTSA because it wanted to let NHTSA know about a death that had taken place in one of its vehicles,” the automaker said in its statement.

It added: “When Fortune contacted Tesla for comment on this story during the July 4th holiday, Fortune never asked any of these questions and instead just made assumptions. Tesla asked Fortune to give it a day to confirm these facts before it rushed its story to print. They declined and instead ran a misleading article.”

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