We brought you a report four months ago about Tesla owners experiencing ‘phantom braking,’ but the number of incidents has continued to rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now received 758 complaints, more than double the last update.
The agency has sent a 14-page document to Tesla demanding information on these incidents. It wants to be furnished with all consumer and field reports the carmaker has collected in relation to the incidents. Tesla must turnover reports on crashes, injuries, deaths, and property damages that can be traced to the anomaly.
The details required by the NHTSA include whether Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system was activated when the drivers experienced the incidents.
The American EV maker has until June 20th to reply to the agency, but it is allowed to ask for an extension.
Drivers started reporting ‘phantom braking’ last fall, which forced Tesla to roll back version 10.3 of its FSD software (beta). The issues reported included forward-collision warnings and unexpected braking.
However, the rollback did not fix the issue, as the number of incidents reported actually increased significantly. The NHTSA received not less than 107 complaints between November and January, compared to only 34 in the 22 months before November. The agency opened an investigation when the number jumped to 354 in February, starting with reports concerning the Model 3 and Model Y.
The agency’s Office of Defects Investigation is now conducting a preliminary evaluation. This is the stage before it issues a recall that could affect about 416,000 cars.
The NHTSA has not received any report of crashes, injuries, or death associated with the ‘phantom braking.’
Tesla decided to stop using radar sensors on the Model 3 and Model Y last year instead of relying on cameras. Musk did mention that Tesla would use cameras exclusively to power its advanced driver assistance system. It is not hard to connect the braking incidents to Musk’s decision.
Regulators and road safety advocates have also criticized the carmaker for its decision to let drivers test unfinished driving software on the highway. Musk has long been promising the beta trial would soon end, but that has not happened yet. Critics point out that abuse of the feature is highly likely as drivers perform dangerous stunts to gather views on YouTube. Other drivers become more careless on the road, hoping FSD will always come to their rescue.
Tesla had to send out a software update early this year to block a feature that let drivers move slowly through a stop sign without actually stopping, known as “rolling stop.” It is illegal in all the states in the US.
In related Tesla news, Musk has ordered a hiring freeze, according to an email he sent to the company executives, which Reuters reported. Tesla would also shed 10 percent of its almost 100,000 workforce. Musk cited his ‘super bad feeling’ about the economy as the reason for the move.
There is no news yet on which departments would be affected the most by the job cuts, but the CEO had already threatened that employees that refuse to return to work physically without permission would be assumed to have resigned.