Researcher Asks U.S. To Recall Every Single Tesla After 2013 Over Sudden Unintended Acceleration

Researcher Asks U.S. To Recall Every Single Tesla After 2013 Over Sudden Unintended Acceleration

A Greek accident investigator is petitioning NHTSA to recall 1.6 million Teslas over their ability to shift from Drive to Reverse without touching the brake pedal.

The ability of some Tesla vehicles to shift from the forward to reverse gear (or vice versa) without the application of the brake pedal is facing increased scrutiny from federal regulators following the submission of a defect petition by a Greek researcher.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into a defect petition that seeks to compel Tesla to make modifications to every vehicle it has sold since 2013. It would see an interlock system that requires the brake pedal to be pressed by the driver in order to shift from Drive to Reverse applied to the vehicles.

In a lengthy technical document submitted by Costas Lakafossis, a mechanical and aeronautical engineer and accident investigator from Greece, Tesla is accused of introducing “special features” that encourage sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) events that have led to accidents and injuries.

“One such ‘special feature’ is the ability of the car to stop and shift into reverse gear when the driver is ready to park, without the requirement of an actual brake pedal activation,” writes Lakafossis. “There is no practical benefit for this potentially dangerous ‘party trick’.”

In the petition, Lakafossis points out that it has been known since the 1980s that the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) feature reduces instances of sudden unintended acceleration in vehicles with automatic transmissions. The feature has also been required on new vehicles since 2010.

The engineer claims that the removal of both feet from the pedals is a major factor contributing to the increased risk of pedal misapplication errors, and points to a number of accidents in documents submitted to NHTSA.

NHTSA says it will now evaluate Lakafossis’ allegations and consider them against its own field data to determine if the petition should be granted or denied. If the petition is granted, it will open a defect investigation, which may lead to a recall.

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