The Washington Post

Safety regulators renew focus on Tesla


U.S. safety regulators are turning up the heat on Tesla, announcing investigat­ions into steering wheels coming off some SUVS and a fatal crash involving a Tesla suspected of using an automated driving system when it ran into a parked firetruck in California.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administra­tion said Wednesday it is launching a special crash-investigat­ion team to probe the Feb. 18 crash involving a Tesla Model S and a ladder truck from the Contra Costa County fire department.

The firetruck probe is part of a larger investigat­ion by the agency into multiple instances of Teslas using the automaker’s Autopilot system crashing into parked emergency vehicles that were tending to other crashes. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas in the past year, announcing multiple recalls and investigat­ions.

The driver of the 2014 Tesla Model S was killed in the crash and a passenger was critically injured. Four firefighte­rs were treated for minor injuries, and the $1.4 million ladder truck was damaged.

Earlier Wednesday, the agency posted documents revealing that it’s investigat­ing steering wheels that can detach from the steering column on as many as 120,000 Model Y SUVS.

The agency said it received two complaints in which 2023 Model Ys were delivered to customers with a missing bolt that holds the wheel to the steering column. A friction fit held the steering wheels on, but they separated when force was exerted while the SUVS were being driven.

The agency said in documents posted on its website Wednesday that both incidents happened while the SUVS had low mileage.

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