Freshly disclosed records suggest the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may be preparing a formal investigation into Tesla Inc.’s driver-assistance system Autopilot, a former agency official said.
The agency has issued at least five subpoenas since April 2018 for information about Tesla vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA correspondence with the electric-car manufacturer released Tuesday by Plainsite. The legal transparency group obtained the documents through a public records request for communications regarding Autopilot.
NHTSA also asked Tesla to provide results of internal tests on a sub-component of the Model 3 sedan’s automatic emergency braking system, and sales figures of vehicles sold with and without Autopilot since mid-2016, among other requests, according to the records.
“I think what this shows is that NHTSA has concerns about Autopilot performance,” Frank Borris, a former director of the Office of Defects Investigation at NHTSA, said after reviewing the documents. He said the subpoenas could mean the agency “is gathering information that would be supportive of a formal investigation.”