Tesla Says It Told Government of Autopilot Crash Before Stock Sale

Tesla MotorsTesla says it told regulators about the May 7th crash involving one of its electric cars in self-driving Autopilot mode nine days after the incident, adding that there was nothing unusual in either the delay or its decision to keep quiet about the incident before a federal investigation was publicly announced last Thursday.

Tesla says the company was informed of the accident “shortly” after it took place.

Tesla’s statement, issued late this afternoon, seems to be a direct response to a Fortune article published earlier today that notes the enormous stock sale that Tesla announced on May 18.

On May 18, eleven days after [Tesla owner Joshua] Brown died, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, in combination (roughly three parts Tesla, one part Musk), sold more than $2 billion of Tesla stock in a public offering at a price of $215 per share—and did it without ever having released a word about the crash.

To put things baldly, Tesla and Musk did not disclose the very material fact that a man had died while using an auto-pilot technology that Tesla had marketed vigorously as safe and important to its customers.

When Fortune sought comment from Musk, he first replied that he didn’t think the fact of the crash was “material to the value of Tesla” and therefore did not need to be disclosed at the time of Tesla’s stock sale. He reportedly continued, via email to Fortune:

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.

In this afternoon’s statement, Tesla said it had disclosed the incident to the government by May 16.

Asked by Reuters why Tesla didn’t also disclose the accident to the public before that share sale, the company sent the outlet the following statement:

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.

More here.

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