At the the
The Doan Law Firm, our staff routinely monitors both the print and electronic media for
news reports suggesting the previously unreported or "under-reported"
presence of a potential defect in popular consumer products. In today's
post we report on a recent accident involving a Tesla Model S that, according
to its driver, suddenly accelerated before winding up in a Shanghai, China
river. Whether or not this accident happened exactly as reported is not
our issue. Instead, we call attention to
how it was "reported" by a website that appears to be nothing more
than a Tesla marketing operation.
How the Accident Happened
The following account of the incident is paraphrased from an online article
written by a "Xiaochun" who "talks about things" on
what seems to be a blog hosted at
Baidu.com and reprinted (in part) at
electrek.co in a post entitled "Tesla crashes into river, owner claims it accelerated on its own".
On the morning of March 7th Xiao Chen and his wife ran some errands and then drove their car, a Tesla
Model S, to a recharging station in the Qingpu District of Shanghai, China.
Although Xiao Chen stated that he was in complete control of the car when
he entered the recharging station, he also insisted that the vehicle suddenly
accelerated even though he
had not pressed the vehicle's accelerator pedal. The sudden acceleration caused
the vehicle to crash through several "signs" and a railing before
coming to a stop in the river that runs adjacent to the station. Fortunately,
Xiao Chen and his passenger were able to exit the vehicle via its windows
and were not injured.
When investigators (and the press) arrived, Xiao Chen continued to insist
that the vehicle had suddenly accelerated "on its own." Witnesses
to the accident, and video from the station's security cameras, confirmed
his account of the accident with one additional observation: while the
vehicle was accelerating, its brake lights were "on," which
would indicate that Xiao Chen's foot was on the
brake pedal rather than on the
The original Baidu.com post then concludes with the usual "pending
investigation" statements and video footage of Xiao Chen recounting
his experience to the local news media.
In the media, and on a scale of 1 to 10, a one-vehicle accident with no
injuries would have a "news interest factor" of "0"
and would have gone unnoticed by anyone other than the owner and the owner's
insurance company. This leads us to ask what, of all the traffic accidents
that must have occurred in China that day, made
this accident worthy of mention by
Autonomous Vehicle Accident
We begin by first noting that reports of vehicles that
unintentionally accelerated are not new and can be found as early as the 1982-1987 model
years of the Audi 5000 (US, elsewhere "100" or "500"),
where sudden acceleration was linked to some 700 accidents and 6 deaths.
Since that time there have been additional events reported that involved
Ford, Jeep, Toyota, Kia and, of course, Tesla products as well.
As mentioned previously, we became aware of this story when it was presented
on elektrek.co. To a casual reader, the article would seem nothing more
than a critical review of one man's account of an automobile accident.
However, when we reviewed other content from the site's archives,
we noticed that its writers consistently 1) praised the virtue of electric
vehicles, particularly those vehicles whose name includes the word "Tesla"
and 2) contempt for anyone, or anything, challenging the veracity of premise
1. This prompted us to take a closer look at elektrek.co.
According to the Wikipedia entry for "Electrek", the company is a "… US based news website dedicated
to electric transportation and sustainable energy. Electrek is known for
its extensive, positive coverage of Tesla …
Its main authors have disclosed ownership of Tesla stock, substantial profit
from referrals to Tesla, and ownership of Tesla cars." [Emphasis added] As further evidence that elektrek.co is essentially
nothing more than a Tesla promotion site, we note that on October 4th 2017 the respected trade journal
Automotive News published an article on its website under the heading "Electrek faces criticism for giving readers Tesla discount codes." That article states:
… Fred Lambert, editor-in-chief of electric vehicle blog Electrek,
tweeted his personal Tesla referral code, giving Tesla customers a $1,000
discount on a new vehicle and free access to the Supercharger network.
The tweet sparked criticism from automotive journalists who accused Lambert
of crossing the line of unbiased coverage …
Lambert said the program benefits Tesla owners, which he is, and is not
merely a way for the company to subsidize his coverage. Owners whose referral
codes are used by new customers stand to receive free Tesla products,
including premium wheels and a Powerwall 2 home battery.
Taking the above into consideration, we find it difficult to accept "news"
from elektrek.co unless it can be "cross-checked" against other
sources. Otherwise, we leave the matter of elektrek.co's "impartiality,"
or as a reliable news source, to the discretion of our readers.
For those wishing an objective review of news relating to electric and/or
"driverless" vehicles, we invite you to visit
The Doan Law Firm website regularly for additional coverage of events in this rapidly-evolving
sector of the transportation industry.