The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently examined the suspension of the Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] Model S after receiving a number of complaints about parts breaking.
The CEO of the electric car company Elon Musk revealed in a Twitter post on Friday that NHTSA determined there’s no safety concern with the Model S suspension and is satisfied with the data Tesla has supplied.
Furthermore, Musk revealed in another Twitter post that the vast majority of the complaints, 37 out of 40 to be precise, were fraudulent. Some of the examples of fraud, according to Musk, were the use of false vehicle location or VIN details.
NHTSA confirmed today that they found no safety concern with the Model S suspension and have no further need for data from us on this matter— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2016
Of greater concern: 37 of 40 suspension complaints to NHTSA were fraudulent, i.e. false location or vehicle identification numbers were used— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2016
NHTSA regularly examines vehicles after receiving complaints, after which the agency requests data from the automaker and then decides whether to proceed with a “preliminary evaluation,” which is the initial step in an investigation. In the case of the Model S suspension, the agency determined there was no need to proceed further.
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This is a common occurrence with many makes and models. The reason the news made headlines this time is because of a “Goodwill Agreement” that Tesla requested at least one out-of-warranty Model S owner with a suspension fault sign in order to get a discount on repairs to his car. Tesla said the suspension fault in this case was an "unusual" case.
2016 Tesla Model S
A section of the Goodwill Agreement requested the owner keep details of the repairs confidential, with some interpreting this to include withholding the details even from safety agencies. NHTSA last week warned Tesla that any language implying customers avoid contacting the agency regarding safety concerns is unacceptable. Tesla responded that the agreement was to protect the company from being taken to court by the owner, and that it is working with NHTSA to handle things differently.
As for why there were so many fraudulent complaints made to NHTSA about the Model S suspension, Tesla in a post on its official blog suggested one reason could be to create negative news about the company to hurt its stock price. And it’s not just Tesla's suspension over which false complaints are being made. Others have complained about Tesla's semi-autonomous system causing crashes, though Tesla has shown via data stored on the affected vehicles that the crashes were due to driver error.