Tesla Model S Owner Claims Vehicle Went Rogue Causing An Accident By Itself, Factory Says RTFM

model s
When automobile accidents happen, the first thing anyone wants to do is assign blame. Who was driving? Who was texting instead of paying attention to the road? Who was speeding and blew through a stoplight? But how do you assess blame if no one was in the driver’s seat at the time of the accident?

Well, for one Model S owner, he is laying the blame at the feet of Tesla Motors for an accident involving his pricey EV and a parked trailer. Jared Overton claims that on April 29th, he parked his Model S on the side of the road and ran some errands. He just so happened to be parked behind a trailer, which he didn’t pay too much attention to at the time.

Tesla Crash
Credit: KSL

A worker from the business he was visiting greeted him outside and started chatting about the Model S. We’re assuming that Overton exchanged pleasantries and told him how magnificent the EV is to drive; after which he went inside the establishment. Roughly five minutes later, he came out to find his Model S getting extra friendly with the trailer we mentioned earlier.

Huh, what? That’s exactly what Overton wanted to know. How exactly did his Model S start up on its own and roll several feet down the road crashing into another parked vehicle? Naturally, Overton was steamed about the accident, which smashed his EV’s windshield, so he decided to contact Tesla to tell them that his vehicle had “gone rogue.”

As it turns out, Tesla cited owner error. According to the vehicle’s logs, Overton had put the vehicle in Summon mode right before the exiting the vehicle, which is activated by “a double-press of the gear selector stalk button, shifting from Drive to Park and requesting Summon activation.” Those are understandably deliberate actions that must be taken to invoke Summon, so either Overton didn’t remember doing all of that (probably unlikely) or his Model S simply spazzed out (possible). Or maybe he was fiddling around with the Tesla smartphone app when showing off the car? The truth shall set you free!

A letter from a regional service manager reads:

Tesla has reviewed the vehicle’s logs, which show that the incident occurred as a result of the driver not being properly attentive to the vehicle’s surroundings while using the Summon feature or maintaining responsibility for safely controlling the vehicle at all times.

The statement went on add that the Summon feature may not detect “certain obstacles, including those that are very narrow (e.g., bikes), lower than the fascia, or hanging from the ceiling.” That would explain why the low-mounted collision sensors on the Model S didn’t catch the trailer ahead of it, which the vehicle struck at windshield level, right above the side mirrors.

To add insult to injury, Tesla in a statement to KSL said that the Summon (just like Tesla Autopilot) is in “beta”, so we take that to mean “customer beware”.