Phantom braking has resulted in a class action lawsuit against Tesla
After experiencing what he calls “a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare,” a Tesla owner in San Francisco has launched a proposed class action lawsuit against the electric vehicle manufacturer. Reuters was the first to disclose the case.
In federal court in the Northern District of California, San Francisco resident Jose Alvarez Toledo filed the action. Toledo claims in his complaint that “hundreds of thousands” of Tesla customers could want to join his class action suit.
The lawsuit claims that Tesla violated California’s unfair competition statute, made illegal profits off of its Autopilot driver assistance system, and committed fraud by downplaying the dangers of using the technology. Punitive damages are what Toledo wants.
“Many Tesla owners have reported significant, unexpected slow-downs and stops due to the false engagement of their Class Vehicle’s braking systems, even though no objects were nearby,” the lawsuit reads. “When the Sudden Unintended Braking Defect Occurs, they turn what is supposed to be a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare.”
The lawsuit was filed as a government probe into Tesla’s phantom braking issue, which revealed in the fall of last year, was getting underway. Due to problems with forward collision warnings and abrupt braking, Tesla had to revert to version 10.2 of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software, the company’s advanced driver aid system, just as those reports surfaced.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received at least 107 complaints from November through January, up from only 34 in the previous 22 months before the reversal, as reported by The Washington Post.
After receiving 354 complaints, the NHTSA opened an investigation into accidents involving Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in February. The number of complaints received by the agency increased to 758 by the time a 14-page “request for information” letter was sent to Tesla in May.
A preliminary evaluation was initiated by the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, which is the first step before the agency issues a formal recall and affects about 416,000 vehicles. As of this writing, there have been no reported incidents involving this problem that resulted in injury or loss of life.
It is possible that this issue stems from Tesla’s decision from last year to stop installing radar sensors in their newest Model 3 and Model Y automobiles. The decision was made after Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated he wanted to use cameras alone to power the company’s advanced driver assistance system.