And Tesla is in fresh trouble. Apparently, the car maker has run into a lawsuit following the death of a driver of one of its cars in an accident that occurred in China, back in January. The lawsuit is bad news for Tesla as it has the potential to give it a lot of negative publicity in a market the company is pinning a lot of its hopes on.
As per media outlets in China, the family of a Chinese man who died in January is suing Tesla over the crash. As per The Associated Press, which is reporting the matter, 23-year-old Gao Yaning crashed into a truck back in January. The crash was fatal and Yaning succumbed to his injuries.
This is where things get murky. The footage from a dashboard camera that has been presented with the lawsuit, show the car hitting a cleaning truck from behind while traveling on a highway. However, there is no certain way to tell if the autopilot was engaged. While Chinese officials investigating the matter told local broadcast stations that the Autopilot feature had been engaged at the time of the crash, Tesla countered with its own arguments.
According to the car manufacturer, the damage done to the car made it impossible to tell whether Autopilot was engaged or whether Yanning was controlling the car manually.
We take any incident with our vehicles very seriously and immediately reached out to our customer when we learned of the crash.
Meanwhile, this lawsuit would only serve to compound Tesla’s problems. The company is already struggling with its pending SolarCity merger. What’s more, its autonomous software has already been questioned multiple time and the company is already facing an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which launched an investigation into the software.
The company had also removed the term self-driving from the Tesla China website, after one of its own drivers claimed that the system’s capabilities were being highly exaggerated. Meanwhile, the victim’s family is seeking an extremely modest 10,000 yuan ($1,500) sum in damages. However, the damage to Tesla in form of negative publicity, has already been done.
So yes, the overall situation looks pretty dismal for Tesla. Even if it manages to get off without facing any legal repercussions, the company’s image is bound to suffer because of the lawsuit. Meanwhile, we will have to wait to see how the Chinese judiciary systems deal with the case.