Tesla stopped reporting Autopilot safety statistics online last year. It was been posting from 2018 to 2021. Around the same time when the postings stopped, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began demanding crash reports.
The nation’s top auto safety regulator began asking for data that is related to advanced driver assistance systems. It began releasing those numbers in June. And those numbers don’t look good for Autopilot. However, in the end, Tesla did not say why it stopped reporting its safety statistics. These numbers measure crash rates per mile driven. The company employs no media relations department. A tweet sent to Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk inviting his comments went unanswered.
While Tesla critics are happy to speak up about the situation. However, Taylor Ogan, chief executive at fund management firm Snow Bull Capital, held a Twitter Spaces event Thursday to run through his own interpretation of Tesla safety numbers. He thinks he knows why the company ceased reporting its safety record, “Because it’s gotten a lot worse.” Additionally, NHTSA announced on Thursday that it had added two more crashes to the dozens of automated-driving Tesla incidents that it’s already investigating. One involved eight vehicles, including a Tesla Model S, on the San Francisco Bay Bridge on Thanksgiving Day. Through Friday’s close, Tesla stock has lost 65% of its value this year.
Ogan, using NHTSA crash numbers, Tesla’s previous reports, sales numbers, and other records, concluded that the number of reported Tesla crashes on U.S. roads has grown far faster than Tesla’s sales growth. The average monthly growth in new Teslas since NHTSA issued its standing order was 6%, he figures, while comparable crash stats rose 21%.
Furthermore, the Tesla Autopilot crash numbers are far higher than those of similar driver-assistance systems from General Motors and Ford. Tesla has reported 516 crashes from July 2021 through November 2022, while Ford reported seven and GM two. Tesla has far more vehicles equipped with driver-assist systems than the competition — an estimated 1 million, Ogan said, about 10 times as many as Ford. All else equal, that would imply Tesla ought to have an NHTSA-reported crash total of 70 since last summer to be comparable with Ford’s rate. Instead, Tesla reported 516 crashes.
It is known that Tesla’s quarterly safety reports were always controversial. They did put Tesla Autopilot in a good light: For the fourth quarter of 2021, Tesla reported one crash per 4.31 million miles driven in cars equipped with Autopilot. The company compared that with government statistics that show one crash per 484,000 miles driven on the nation’s roadways, for all vehicles and all drivers.