Tesla eventually issued a public apology after facing criticism from local authorities and state-run media, without acknowledging any defect. The company later released data logs of the vehicle showing it was traveling at 118.5 kilometers per hour (74 miles per hour) just before impact.
A separate incident in November 2022 involved a fatal crash with a Model Y crossover. Tesla again said the incident wasn’t caused by a malfunction, pointing to data taken from the car showing no proof the brake pedal had been applied before the crash, and a video that showed the brake lights remained off. The accelerator was heavily engaged in the lead up to the crash, which killed a motorcyclist and high school student on a bicycle.
While regulators have studied pedal-misapplication incidents for decades, the issue rose to the fore with Toyota Motor Corp.’s unintended-acceleration recalls beginning in 2009.
Unintended acceleration could become more common and acute with electric vehicles, which lacks the noise of a revving engine that could lead a driver to more quickly realize they have pressed the wrong pedal. Stepping on the accelerator of an EV also produces almost instant torque, leading vehicles to take off quicker than gasoline cars.
China is a hugely important market for Tesla both as a source of production and sales. Revenue from the country rose to more than $18 billion last year, more than six times what the company generated in 2019.
The Austin, Texas-based automaker has an EV factory on the outskirts of Shanghai that produced almost 711,000 cars last year, more than half its worldwide output.