Tesla Investigates Potential Autopilot Link in Fatal China Crash

  • Beijing court has accepted family’s lawsuit, CCTV reports
  • Tesla altered Autopilot translation used in China last month

Tesla Investigates Fatal China Crash

Tesla Motors Inc. said it has no way of knowing whether its Autopilot system was involved in a crash in China that killed the driver because the car was too damaged to transmit data.

A court in Beijing’s Chaoyang district has accepted a lawsuit filed in July against Tesla by the family of the 23-year-old driver who died in January, state-run China Central Television reported. The family has asked for 10,000 yuan ($1,498) in compensation, according to the broadcaster, which aired dashboard footage of the Tesla hitting a cleaning truck from behind in the far-left lane on a highway in Hebei province.

“We were saddened to learn of the death of our customer’s son,” the Palo Alto, California-based company said. “We have tried repeatedly to work with our customer to investigate the cause of the crash, but he has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so.”

Tesla’s Autopilot system has been under scrutiny following a May 7 fatal crash in Florida involving a 40-year-old Ohio man. In China, the world’s biggest auto market, regulators directed automakers in July to suspend road testing of self-driving cars while the government craft policies governing their use. Tesla altered the translation used to market Autopilot in China last month to clarify it’s a driving-assistance system, rather than a self-driving one, following a minor accident in Beijing.

Chinese companies including Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., Baidu Inc. and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. have urged policy makers to speed up the process so that they don’t fall behind competitors carrying out similar tests in other jurisdictions.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE