Tesla received a cease and desist letter from the NHTSA last October over claims the agency says misrepresent the Model 3’s safety capabilities.
Tesla just can't catch a break these days. The company posted a whopping $408 million loss for the second quarter due to slower sales for the flagship Model S sedan and Model X SUV. It's so bad that Tesla even brought back unlimited Supercharging for their most luxurious models in a bid to boost sales.
Now we're finding out that Tesla is also under fire from the NHTSA over statements the company made regarding the safety of the Model 3. Tesla claimed that the Model 3 had the "lowest probability of injury of all cars" and were "less likely to get seriously hurt."
According to Reuters who obtained a copy of the cease and desist letter sent to Tesla last October, the NHTSA says those claims are "misleading statements." The agency also says that it wasn't the first time Tesla has ignored their directives and that such statements gave the electric carmaker an unfair advantage in their marketing.
Tesla responded to the October letter saying that their claims are based on NHTSA data. The Model 3 was given a 5-star rating by the agency based on collision and rollover tests. Tesla denies that it ever said the Model 3 is the "safest" vehicle, and instead said that it was designed "to be the safest car ever built."
“To say Tesla’s midsize sedan has a lower probability of injury than say a larger SUV could be interpreted as misunderstanding safety data, an intention to mislead the public, or both,” wrote NHTSA chief counsel Jonathan Morrison. Since Tesla's statements didn't take into account differences in relative weight between vehicles during a collision, making an accurate statement on overall safety is impossible.
The matter has since been forwarded to the FTC for further investigation.
This isn’t the first time Tesla and its CEO have landed in hot water due to misleading claims. Musk was recently fined by the SEC for making claims on his Twitter account that resulted in wild swings in his company’s stock price.