German news outlet Handelsblatt reported receiving 100 GB of files containing Tesla proprietary information from an anonymous source. Their authenticity was confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology. The files contain thousands of Tesla customer complaints about strange autopilot behavior, as well as more than 1,000 accident reports involving unintentional braking or accelerating the company’s electric vehicles, mostly in the US and Germany.
After reviewing more than 23,000 Tesla internal files, the publication noted a “disturbing” trend of neglecting customer complaints about dangerous Autopilot glitches. Despite attempts by Tesla to prevent Handelsblatt from using the data under threat of lawsuits, the publication decided that reporting such a data breach would be legal under European Union law.
The leaked files contain more than 2,400 complaints from Tesla electric vehicle owners about spontaneous acceleration and more than 1,500 about braking problems, including 139 cases of unintentional emergency braking and 383 reports of “phantom” stops due to false collision warnings. The number of incidents that occurred for these reasons exceeded 1000. There were also more than 3000 records in which customers expressed concerns about the safety of the driver assistance system.
The earliest complaints date from 2015 and the most recent from March 2022. Most of the complaints concern incidents in the US, there are complaints from Asia and Europe, including Germany. Customers from different countries contacted by Handelsblatt confirmed to the publication the information indicated in the leaked Tesla files.
Drivers noted that the company seeks to hide the existing problems. Each complaint was reflected in reports for internal use. Each entry is accompanied by a note in bold stating that the information may only be communicated to the client orally.
“Do not copy or paste the report below into an email, text message, or leave it in a customer’s voicemail,” the message said to employees. In addition, the company forbade disclosing vehicle details without permission. If “the involvement of a lawyer cannot be prevented,” this must be recorded, the company recommends to employees.
Electric vehicle owners have confirmed that Tesla employees avoid written communication. “They never sent emails, everything was always verbal,” a California doctor told the publication.
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