Tesla Took 9 Days to Mention Fatal Autopilot Crash to Officials

Automaker states it learned about the incident “shortly thereafter” it occurred.

Tesla Autopilot Crash
R4200/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Tesla informed government officials of the first fatal crash to occur while using the company's now-controversial semi-autonomous driving function, Autopilot, nine days after the accident actually happenedCNBC reports. This news comes after criticism that the company and its CEO Elon Musk may have strategically timed a sale of more than $2 billion of Tesla stock and potentially withheld "material" information from shareholders before publicly announcing the incident.

Though Tesla claims it was notified of the crash "shortly" after it occurred on May 7th, regulators were not made aware of the accident until May 16th, nine days after the first fatal Autopilot accident occurred. And it was not until June 30th that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it had opened an investigation into the accident.

As noted by Reuters, due to the nature of the harsh accident, the windshield was torn off the electric car after it drove head-on into the side of a tractor trailer, cleaving off the top of the car. Because of the car's mangled state, the Tesla Model S could not send the accident data to Tesla using the over-the-air cellular data connection installed in all Tesla models. A Tesla spokesperson told Reuters the company was notified of the incident "shortly thereafter" from local officials. This could explain some of the disconnect and why it took nine days for federal regulators to be notified of the crash.

When questioned as to why the carmaker did not release information regarding the accident before it began selling off its stock, Tesla said: "Tesla does not find it necessary, nor does any automaker, to share the details of every accident that occur in a Tesla vehicle. More than a million people die globally every year in car accidents, but automakers do not disclose each of these accidents to investors, let alone before those investigations are complete and without regard to what the results of those investigations end up being."

Update, 1:50pm: Tesla has released a statement regarding the crash claiming it has no data that suggests Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash.