back to article Whoa, whoa... Tesla slams brakes on allegations of 'unintended acceleration' bug: 'Completely false and was brought by a short-seller'

Tesla is rubbishing complaints of a possible software-related gremlin causing its line of electric cars to suddenly speed up. The luxury automaker on Monday issued a statement emphatically denying allegations that three of its models were prone to "unintended acceleration" while on the road. The complaints were submitted …

  1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

    ...but blaming "short sellers" for everything just makes you look silly.

    I wish they'd cut that out.

    1. Robert Heffernan

      Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

      Well, honestly for any company, including Tesla short sellers are incredibly unethical in that they can target high-value companies, run a simple social-media or advertising based smear campaign full of lies, misinformation, or misrepresentation to tank the stock price, and walk away with a huge profit without consequence. It's a practice that should be banned by the relevant authorities.

      The logging capability of a Tesla vehicle is second-to-none, the next best thing out there is a Black-Box flight data recorder. If Tesla says these reports are wrong based on vehicle data then I believe that, and reports to the contrary can be attributed to a short seller smear campaign because Tesla has faced a LOT of them.

      Honestly, it should be a requirement that ALL vehicles from ALL manufacturers these days log all this information for the purpose of accident investigation. A ruggedised module capable of withstanding water, fire, or structural damage that sits on the vehicle's CAN bus and just logs data.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

        "Honestly, it should be a requirement that ALL vehicles from ALL manufacturers these days log all this information for the purpose of accident investigation. A ruggedised module capable of withstanding water, fire, or structural damage that sits on the vehicle's CAN bus and just logs data."

        Most modern vehicles already have that, though one has to question what the value of it is in accident investigation. The data within is hard to accept on its own as incontrovertible, you're going to jail evidence. It can't be trusted to accurately record position (often critical in working out what happened when in an accident); it'll give steering angle, wheel speed, possibly accelerations, driver inputs, that's about it. Plus, the timestamps for logged events are very difficult to rely on; what evidence is there that the clock was correct?

        There has to be something else; on-site investigation by police trained in the matter, looking for things like tyre marks, damage levels to vehicles, witness statements, etc. Given that those types of evidence properly collected are in themselves sufficient to jail a driver, the in-car black box is of limited additional value.

        I've no idea if Teslas really are stomping on their own juice pedals; but just because Tesla's log data say's they're not doesn't mean they aren't.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "but just because Tesla's log data say's they're not doesn't mean they aren't"

          If the logging is done properly, then it would. For example, the logging for a state machine would include all the input values and a record of any state transitions that occur, allowing the control paths within the code to be reviewed to understand exactly what the software did / did not do.

          An audit of the logging code would reveal the truth.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

          If only it could log GPS as well, giving both reasonable positional and excellent temporal resolution.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If only it could log GPS as well

            If it's integrated in the platform, it more than likely would be.

      2. mevets

        Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

        Is that you Elon?

        Are you sure they are "second-to-none", better than "Black-Box" flight data recorder. That sounds a little hyperbolic, a little, uhh, musky. Are the data recorders in trains inferior to those in Teslas? Busses? Trucks? Ships? Rockets? Are the unfiltered (ie. no software) sensor values captured by the recording system? Oh, no, you mean it is just a glorified syslogd? I suppose that is second to none, if none litterally means none what so ever.

        If Tesla says .... Tesla are a subsidy whore and run an operation that is almost entirely based upon market perception. Tesla is ' worth ' more than GM + Ford combined, except that GM's real estate holdings alone are worth more than Tesla and its next 25 years of sales, even assuming that it reaps 100% profit.

        Honestly, it is a requirement that all cars have this logging capacity; but logging off the can bus means there has already been a layer of software interpretation, which makes it all very suspect.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Is that you Elon?

          Mr Heffernan has made 392 post since joining in 2007 and has not called anyone a pedo so probably not.

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

          ” but logging off the can bus means there has already been a layer of software interpretation, which makes it all very suspect.“

          No it doesn’t, and no it doesn’t.

        3. Black Betty

          Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

          Given that there are still planes flying that use metal foil recorders, and that many "black boxes" have been found to be non-operational after crashes it's entirely possible that Tesla's data recorders are better (at least on average) than those used in commercial transportation applications. 1) because a lot of installed kit may be 20 years (or more) old, and 2) in the interest of maintaining compatibility, even brand new kit is often based on reference designs that are years or even decades out of date.

          Certainly SpaceX's telemetry and data logging is far more comprehensive than that of others in that industry, and Elon boasts that there is a great deal of technology sharing between SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Thus it is very likely that Tesla's data recorders represent industry best practice and may well be better than the vast majority of those used in aviation.

      3. Pier Reviewer

        Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

        *Some* short sellers are indeed unethical. However, randomly spaffing lies on Facespace only gets you so far. Look at who holds the majority of Tesla shares. It ain’t mom and pop. It’s institutional investors. They’re in it to make money, and are far less easily swayed by such behaviour.

        Musk has very thin skin. I agree with many on here that this issue is far more likely to be “fat feet” rather than software. However the shouts of “short sellers!” are just Musk’s reaction to *any* negative press. If a Tesla’s going to kill you it won’t be random acceleration, it’ll be randomly ignoring large objects in the road (I guess I must be shorting TSLA yo)

    2. Gerhard Mack

      Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

      The flaw in your reasoning, is that this petition was filed by Brian Sparks who has self identified as having a short position in Tesla. He claims to have heard about the problem but doesn't seem to own a Tesla himself. The petition covers 2013 - 2019 (6 years) and complains about 127 issues. That's 21 complaints a year, hardly a widespread problem even if all of the complaints turn out to be true.

      To top it off, one of the complaints involves the Tesla not allowing the driver to override the steering wheel, which is something that the steering assist is designed to not be strong enough to do.

      In my view, this short seller is being squeezed by the latest short burn and is trying to recover his losses.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: That's 21 complaints a year, hardly a widespread problem...

        It's not just how many occurrences, the severity of the problem is also relevant. 21 complaints a year of the windows making a whining noise? Fine. 21 complaints a year of a car deciding to randomly accelerate? Not fine, sort it out before someone ends up hurt.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

        "steering assist is designed to not be strong enough to do"

        maybe these are feeble drivers steering with one finger

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

        The thing is, Musk wails about "short sellers" all the frigging time. Anytime Tesla gets any kind of not-totally-rave press, it's malicious lies planted by short sellers. It's getting old.

        Just because someone has made a bet that your shares will go down, which is all short selling is, that doesn't mean that their complaint is without merit. Maybe they're selling short because there's a problem, not inventing a problem because they want to sell short.

        1. Baldrickk

          Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

          It certainly makes it hard to know who to trust.

          Well. my new default postition is "distrust everyone".

        2. Gerhard Mack

          Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

          "The thing is, Musk wails about "short sellers" all the frigging time. Anytime Tesla gets any kind of not-totally-rave press, it's malicious lies planted by short sellers. It's getting old."

          To be fair, they tend not to let up for even a moment. Every possible bit of bad news and Tesla is doomed. Last year we had someone cry about a "demand cliff" in California, they turned out to be very wrong. Now this year the exact same person is claiming there is a demand cliff in California and he made sure he got quoted by all of the media. Never mind that Tesla is back ordered 5 weeks and prioritized deliveries to make sure customers in the Netherlands didn't lose out on rebates before they expired. Some of the other hit pieces from Dec/Jan: "excluding the Netherlands, Tesla sales are down."

          So now we have a guy, who trolled the NHTSA database for things to complain about. Most of these were already investigated.. One of the highlighted complaints is something the car can't physically do for regulatory and safety reasons. Another case is where the data recovered from the car showed no break press and 45 degrees on the accelerator when the "unexpected acceleration" happened. And of course, he goes out and contacts the media and of course, he just happens to have a short position in Tesla. Why exactly should we take him at his word?

          Somewhere short selling became a game to drive the stock down and it's not just Tesla that has suffered from this.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

            And just to top it off, we get fairly regular news reports that make the national media, of non-Tesla cars "mysteriously" self-accellerating into shop windows, shopping centres etc. and the driver never seems to understand what happened. People hit the wrong pedal all the time, or so it seems.

            It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that these uncommanded accelerations attributed to Tesla software are actual and real events, but I find it very unlikely. Disclosure. I'm not a Tesla owner, have never driven one, can't afford one and still think the biggest mistake ever was to call the driver assist technology "autopilot".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sure, deny it and point to the evidence that supports your position...

      It's not a conspiracy. Head over to teslaq on twitter where they've been shorting for years on the prediction of Tesla's imminent bankruptcy.

      Recently they have lost $billions and some have lost real money (as opposed to client's money). They are constantly discussing ways to bring down Tesla.

      Not only was this petition by a short, but also many of the complaints were filed by shorts 'on behalf' of the owner.

  2. Ken Y-N
    Thumb Down

    How I hate "clap-back"!

    Perhaps I'm not enough of a yank millennial, but what's wrong with good old "retort"?

    Also, I find all the "short-seller" retorts that fly around whenever any bad news about Tesla no more that just a smokescreen to distract from the fact that the US authorities are happy with purchasers continuing to be beta (alpha?) testers for Tesla's platform. Germany has decided they must disable it ("Wah, wah, BMW/Benz are just butt-hurt!" I hear the Teslarati cry) but will the US ever start independent investigations?

  3. Rustbucket

    Better than Boeing 737 Max

    At least Tesla's accelerator pedals have TWO independent sensors, not relying on just one like Boeing.

  4. Joe Dietz

    First thing I thought when I first saw the headline about 'unintended acceleration' was 'market manipulation'.

    1. mevets

      Market Manipulation

      Isn't Tesla crying market manipulation the same as Cisco crying spyware?

  5. Imhotep Silver badge

    The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

    Unintended acceleration almost always ends up being someone pressing the wrong pedal and usually involves older drivers.

    Given that, I'm always sceptical of these reports and, given the financial interest of the petitioner, doubly so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "someone pressing the wrong pedal"

      Yep. This used to happen a lot in the days when (especially) automatics had no software at all in them, often when parking. "I pressed the "brakes" gently to stop, the car went faster. I pressed them harder and it went faster, ...".

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

      It does usually involve older drivers, but I've done it myself before I was old. In fact I managed to park a car in my garage without opening the garage door. During the incident, I pressed the brake and surprised that the car wasn't stopping I pressed the brake harder. In fact it was the accelerator I was pressing.

      I am now disqualified from judging people who do this.

      1. Imhotep Silver badge

        Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

        I once had a terrifying couple of seconds pumping the clutch to the floor, thinking it was the brake.

        1. 's water music

          Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

          I once had a terrifying couple of seconds pumping the clutch to the floor, thinking it was the brake.

          Borrowing an automatic and depressing the clutch pedal as you approach the first junction gave me a big surprise. Fortunately a more or less fail-safe mistake

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

      I did it once, while learning to drive.

      I was driving a manual gearbox and had my foot on the clutch at the time anyway, so the only consequences were: engine revved a bit; I coasted about 20cm further than initially intended.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

      "Unintended acceleration almost always ends up being someone pressing the wrong pedal and usually involves older drivers."

      Let's change that to "women drivers" with equal supporting evidence adduced. Is that still acceptable?

      1. Baldrickk

        Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

        No.

        Its widely known, based on insurance statistics, and also perfectly congruent based on common sense that the older driver claim is accurate.

        Those most likely to be involved in an accident like this are actually two groups - those who are new to driving, and those who are elderly, and thus more likely to be suffering from cognitive degeneration of some form or another.

        The former group is relatively small, and those in it tend to learn quickly and leave the group.

        The latter group are larger. and only growing.

        It's unfortunate, but the brain isn't perfect, and does end up degrading. In extreme cases, we end up with dementia, and similar, but it really only needs a moment of confusion to end up in trouble.

        On the contrary, men paying more for insurance due to their likelihood of getting into an accident compared to women has been a well known statistic. This would be evidence against your suggested claim.

        1. Dr. Mouse

          Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

          "men paying more for insurance due to their likelihood of getting into an accident compared to women has been a well known statistic"

          This is from memory, but if I remember correctly:

          Men don't actually have more accidents. In fact, women tend to have more accidents. However, men tend to claim more, on average, because their accidents tend to be larger: Women have more small crapes and bumps, but men have more large crashes and write offs which add up to a higher amount claimed against insurance on average.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

            Men have more accidents because they do more miles. Accidents per mile stats are about the same for each gender.

          2. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

            Isn't that the old, much maligned adage:

            Women have stupid accidents (swiped the wall on the way out of the garage, rolled to a stop by nudging the car in front at the lights, and so on)

            While men have crazy accidents (accelerating hard at the lights and losing control, deciding to race the car which just overtook them, hammering up to a roundabout at 130kmh, turning to their mates and saying "Watch this!")

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

          "those who are elderly, and thus more likely to be suffering from cognitive degeneration of some form or another."

          Hitting the wrong pedal would more likely be poor coordination rather than cognitive.

          1. Korev Silver badge

            Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

            Or pedals that are too small, for me I found that a Peugeot 206's pedals are too near each other for my "small for a man" feet.

            1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

              Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

              Some of us have "large for a bigfoot" feet. Imagine trying to drive a Mini with snow shoes on and you will understand my dislike of tiny foot wells and close pedals.

              I've managed to hit all 3 pedals in various commuter cars multiple times. Say what you will but (US) full size SUVs and trucks have lots of foot room - which is why I drive them by preference.

              1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: The Harder I Pressed The Brake, The Faster It Went

                It's not usually a "big foot" problem though. A number of more <ahem> generous in years drivers of my acquaintance (who all prefer automatics, as is the way in the anti podes)seem to go by the rule "two pedals, two feet - perfick", so it is a cognitive issue for them. They simply use the wrong foot under stress.

                I, being somewhat advanced in years myself, prefer to keep my left foot for the clutch and stow it away on the little footrest when forced to drive an automatic.

  6. FF22

    Culprit denies having done anything wrong

    Isn't that what virtually all of them are doing when faced with the consequences of their actions and the prospect of a punishment?

    1. Lintfordpickle
      Meh

      Re: Culprit denies having done anything wrong

      So you genuinely believe they are going to recall 500,000 vehicles on based on anecdotal evidence? Now if somebody could provide video evidence of a problem this real would suddenly become real

  7. SJA

    Toyota 2009

    Sounds like a Toyota 2009 issue: The problem exists between steering wheel and chair.

    https://www.manufacturing.net/automotive/blog/13110434/the-2009-toyota-accelerator-scandal-that-wasnt-what-it-seemed

    "More often than not, drivers who reported that their accelerators were stuck were inadvertently flooring it and thinking they were pressing the brakes. Data from many of the “black boxes” from cars involved in incidents of unintended acceleration showed that in most cases, the brakes were never even touched."

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Toyota 2009

      When this happened, Toyota had overtaken some other car manufacturers to become the biggest auto maker. Some years later, VW became the biggest auto maker....

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Toyota 2009

        Most cars now have an automatic disconnect in place so pressing the brake cuts the accelerator. For those that want to drive a little more enthusiastically this removes the ability to learn to left foot brake properly.

        But it alos means if you mash the brake and accelerator at the same time the brake should always win.

        1. iron Silver badge

          Re: Toyota 2009

          If pressing the brake cuts the accelerator, how does the modern driver dry their brakes after driving through a large puddle? Something I was tested on during my driving test 30 years ago.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Toyota 2009

            You brake after going through the water.

            You don't need to brake hard, you just need to dry the brakes. Yes, it will compromise your 0-60 time accelerating away from said water, but this is a public road we are talking about.

          2. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Toyota 2009

            You don't.... I've never encountered any situation where that would be required.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Toyota 2009

              "You don't.... I've never encountered any situation where that would be required."

              Various fords I pass regularly have signs reminding drivers to check their brakes after passing through...

              It's probably not as important with modern brakes as it used to be, but its still recommended (and safe/easy/low cost)

              1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

                Re: Toyota 2009

                Back in the days of drum brakes all around it was extremely important. It was not uncommon for only one front brake to work after fording - which could be exciting in a bad way.

              2. imanidiot Silver badge

                Re: Toyota 2009

                But that still doesn't require throttle and brakes at the same time. Just brake to standstill from a low speed a few times should be enough.

      2. Ochib

        Re: Toyota 2009

        WIth the sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in the Toyota's it was found that the unsecured all-weather mats had led to pedal entrapment and drivers accelerating up to 90 mph with decreased braking power.

        The Department of Transportation reported in 2011 that the only causes for SUA were pedal misapplication and wrong mats. Most complaints came after the Toyota recall. The cars' event data recorders showed application of accelerator pedal and no application of brake pedal. NASA was unable to replicate engine control failure.

        1. Baldrickk

          Re: Toyota 2009

          I had something similar when learning to drive. Mat in my car had shifted, but in this case it trapped the clutch pedal down. End result was that I was stuck blocking access to a roundabout.

          It was enough to make me panic, just a little, because suddenly the car wasn't doing what was intended, though it was easily rectified.

          I can imagine that had it been the accelerator, I'd have been in a significantly different position (though it's rare that the accelerator pedal gets pushed to the floor.)

    2. Fungus Bob

      Re: Toyota 2009

      "Sounds like a Toyota 2009 issue: The problem exists between steering wheel and chair."

      Actually, Toyota borrowed old Audi technology from the 1980's...

  8. Claverhouse Silver badge

    It's terrible when stupid people just make up wanton slander and get away with it.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Oh go back to your kitten BBQ

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: It's terrible when stupid people just make up wanton slander and get away with it.

      That's not terrible - that's FaceBook

  9. Steve 149

    Most, maybe all fly by wire accelerators have 2 'pots' with associated feedback. In Renaults the 'pots' read the opposite way around at the same time. So on pressing the accelerator ones resistances starts 'climbing' and the other ones starts 'falling'. If there's a mismatch in the expected values at the EMU a DTC is triggered.

    As to the rest of the story maybe we'll find out eventually.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Having owned a Renault the only elements 'falling' I saw tended to be parts falling off.

      Clutch pedal assembly

      Drivers window (x2)

      Sunroof (x2)

      Rear brake calliper

      Steering wheel leather

      CD player

      Ariel

      Windscreen

      It was a new one as well.

  10. Starace
    Flame

    Analysis

    I'm sure I remember seeing a hardware analysis on this that blamed a voltage regulator reset on an integrated motor controller that was causing swings on the supply to the throttle sensors?

    Pushing the wrong pedal isn't exactly rare but the statistics suggest something must be happening, and it being more than the idiots behind the wheel and overly rapid acceleration.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Analysis

      I think pushing the wrong pedal is actually not all that uncommon by a certain demographic. Ditto driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway or motorway.

  11. drewzilla79
    Stop

    Tesla says in its clap-back

    Please tell me you are using this ironically. Being American I can't tell when or how much dry British wit is inferred in these articles.

    If down-voted be assured I will issue no clap backs, back claps, or black caps of my own.

  12. Grooke

    Missed a few

    "As I was making a 90-degree turn to park, your record would certainly show that I pressed the breaks [sic] during the turn. The only way I could have put the car in the high acceleration - that my wife and I noticed - would be that I lifted my feet[sic? I only use one foot at a time on a given pedal] from the break [sic] and instantly pressed very hard on the accelerated [sic] paddle[sic]. I cant[sic] understand how that be[sic] feasible. If the record does not show this precise pattern, than[sic] it points to a potential software flaw."

    I'd send it to corrections, but it's mainly mocking the petitioner.

    1. RobThBay

      Re: Missed a few

      You beat me to it :)

      Nothing like Yankee English.

      We use an American app for our vehicle and driver logs. When I asked why they spell litre as "liter" they said something along the lines of... the rest of the world spells it according to international standards... we spell it the US way.

  13. NomadUK

    Can't stand Tesla, but....

    Malcolm Gladwell did an episode in the first series of his podcast, 'Revisionist History', in which he thoroughly examined and debunked the whole Toyota uncontrolled acceleration fable, showing that it was almost exclusively due to driver error. A small fraction might — might — have been due to the floor mat, but that was uncertain. Almost every case was due to the driver thinking they were pressing the brake when in fact they were pressing the accelerator.

  14. Roger Mew

    If there is a glitch in the hardware that actually for some reason activates the "go" mode then it will record that the client hit the "go" pedal. I discovered this with a totally separate problem on electronically controlled kit. In fact I found that it was possible for the "Go" wire to touch something else. I then discovered a radio signal could do the same. Do not assume that because the memory says something that it is written in stone. Little story, some years ago about 25 actually in an old land rover and talking on my RT set, a Porsche Targa roared up behind me and went to overtake. He did not, but load pops and bangs from his exhaust and loads of black smoke. I released my pressel and the car went to pass, I responded to my friend and the Porsche went into frenetic s again. So you have to concede that Porsche's and my radio transmitters do not agree.

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