Tesla has taken to its blog to strongly deny a story that claims that the Model S has a suspension problem and that the company tried to cover it up.
“First, there is no safety defect with the suspensions in either the Model S or Model X,” begins Tesla’s statement, in response to a story from Daily Kanban. The story alleges that Tesla had a customer sign a “Goodwill Agreement” after his vehicle was fixed which forbade him from disclosing the agreement itself or the details of his defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).
In response, Tesla says that it “has never and would never ask a customer to sign a document to prevent them from talking to NHTSA or any other government agency. That is preposterous.” Tesla goes on to say that it would never try and actively keep safety defects from NHTSA.
“The basic point [of the agreement] is to ensure that Tesla doesn’t do a good deed, only to have that used against us in court for further gain.” In this case, Tesla covered half the cost of the repair as a show of good faith.
“These situations are very rare, but have sometimes occurred in the past. We will take a look at this situation and will work with NHTSA to see if we can handle it differently, but one thing is clear: this agreement never even comes close to mentioning NHTSA or the government and it has nothing to do with trying to stop someone from communicating with NHTSA or the government about our cars. We have absolutely no desire to do something like that.”
NHTSA released a statement saying that the agency was going to further investigate suspension defects in the Model S, a point which Tesla wanted to clarify. “NHTSA has not opened any investigation nor has it even started a “preliminary evaluation,” which is the lowest form of formal investigatory work that it does,” reads the Tesla post. “On April 20th, as part of what it has told us it considers “routine screening,” NHTSA informally asked us to provide information about our suspensions. On April 30th, we provided all relevant information to NHTSA. NHTSA has since told us that we have cooperated fully and that no further information is needed.”
In its statement, NHTSA also called the non-disclosure agreement “troublesome,” and said that it expects Tesla to remove all language from the agreement that implies that customers should not report safety defects.
Tesla also takes on the author of the original story, Edward Niedermeyer, by suggesting he is biased and might be trying to influence Tesla stock prices for personal gain. “It is probably wise to take Mr. Niedermayer’s (sic) words with at least a small grain of salt. We don’t know if Mr. Niedermayer’s (sic) motivation is simply to set a world record for axe-grinding or whether he or his associates have something financial to gain by negatively affecting Tesla’s stock price, but it is important to highlight that there are several billion dollars in short sale bets against Tesla. This means that there is a strong financial incentive to greatly amplify minor issues and to create false issues from whole cloth.”
Finally, Tesla finishes by saying, “sometimes Tesla does make genuine mistakes. We are not and have never claimed to be perfect. However, we strongly believe in trying to do the right thing and, when we fall short, taking immediate corrective action.”