NHTSA clears Tesla in suspension related ‘goodwill agreement’ issue: Report

Tesla Motors faced a little trouble with NHTSA as the federal agency was about to initiate an inquiry over the company asking a customer to not speak about a vehicle issue as the customer was half the money for repair of his Model S vehicle. Tesla had denied any wrongdoing and the customer was made to sign a ‘goodwill agreement’. While some media reports suggested that the federal vehicle safety regulator had started gathering more data on the issue, Tesla had stated that there was no safety defect with the suspensions in either the Model S or Model X. A fresh report from NHTSA confirmed that Tesla Motors has revised its so-called ‘goodwill agreement’. Tesla won’t bind customers to remain silent on any issues related to safety of Tesla’s vehicles.

The changes to the agreement clearly state that customers are free to report safety concerns to regulators. Tesla Motors had issued a clarification on the issue. Tesla said, “First, there is no safety defect with the suspensions in either the Model S or Model X. Since we own all of our service centers, we are aware of every incident that happens with our customer cars and we are aware of every part that gets replaced. Whenever there is even a potential issue with one of those parts, we investigate fully.”

Tesla’s statement further informed, “Second, 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. 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. Neither before nor after this information was provided has NHTSA identified any safety issue with Tesla’s suspensions.”

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in a posting on his personal twitter account on Friday that “37 of 40 suspension complaints to NHTSA were fraudulent, i.e. false location or vehicle identification numbers were used.” This indicates that one or more people “sought to create the false impression of a safety issue where none existed.”

On Thursday, the regulator said that some of the customers who have experienced suspension failures with Model S luxury have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements on the matter. Bryan Thomas, an agency spokesman said that as soon as the agency came to know about the matter, it immediately contacted Tesla.

It informed that if there anything mentioned by them that means consumers should not contact the agency with regard to safety concerns will not be accepted. “Tesla representatives told N.H.T.S.A. that it was not their intention to dissuade consumers from contacting the agency”, said Thomas.

The agency said that it has been assessing the Model S suspension, including the springs, joints and other parts that connect a car to its wheels. Main aim of the assessment is to look out for possible defects that could lead to permanent failures.

Since October, the safety regulator has received 33 complaints of suspension parts breaking. When suspension problem takes place, it can cause steering problem and make driving impossible. A few of the complaints included a requirement from the company’s side that the car owners must confidentiality agreements in exchange to have their car repaired.

The agency has termed the agreements as ‘troublesome’. In 2015, Tesla has sold 25,200 Model S cars, which starts price of around $70,000. Earlier also, Tesla’s Model X, a SUV, was recalled for a problem with its rear seats.

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