Report: Tesla Model 3 safety claims dinged by NHTSA lawyers

NHTSA lawyers don’t agree that the Model 3 “had achieved the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle the agency ever tested.”

Tesla was slapped on the wrist for the second time in six years by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization sent the EV maker a cease-and-desist letter last year over Model 3 safety claims and has now subpoenaed the carmaker for info on severe crashes, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Back in October, Tesla said in a blog post that the Model 3 “had achieved the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle the agency ever tested.” NHTSA lawyers didn’t agree with that, which was found out via Plainsite, a nonprofit advocacy group. NHTSA says the claims were inconsistent and that it would ask the FTC to investigate.

The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and included orders for information on other Model 3 crashes.

Subpoenas get quicker attention from automakers, according to an ex-NHTSA attorney, than the usual collection procedures. This also isn’t the first time this happened with Tesla.

In 2012, Tesla said the Model S “achieved a vehicle safety score equated to 5.4 stars.” NHTSA said it doesn’t rate vehicles more than 5 stars.

Al Prescott, Tesla’s deputy general counsel, disagrees and said that, “Tesla has provided consumers with fair and objective information to compare the relative safety of vehicles having 5-star overall ratings.” According to an email exchange, Tesla and NHTSA have been meeting quarterly, so there has been communication.

“This is not the first time that Tesla has disregarded the guidelines in a manner that may lead to consumer confusion and give Tesla an unfair market advantage,” said Jonathan Morrison, chief counsel at NHTSA, to Musk back in October.

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