Kansas City Townsend Law Firm

Class action claims 2 Tesla models suddenly brake in ice or snow

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2017 | Product Liability

The owner of a Tesla Model X claims he lost control of his car after slowing down for icy conditions on a curve. The so-called “regenerative” braking system on the car did kick in, he said, but it failed to coast — it continued to brake. The sudden breaking sent him spinning off the road and down a mountainside, where he crashed through branches and into trees. He was left stranded in the crashed car for over an hour.

Nevertheless, he knows he is lucky to have sustained only minor injuries. Other drivers may not be so fortunate, so he has filed a proposed class action seeking $2.3 billion in damages for owners of Tesla Model X and Model S cars.

“The regenerative braking systems used in both the Model S and Model X create a substantial risk for the vehicles to lose control in snowy conditions,” reads the complaint. “The vehicle’s automatic regenerative braking system makes the vehicles unable to coast.”

In other words, the system forces the car to break in icy or snowy conditions even when braking is not what is called for.

Most other cars, the complaint states, have regenerative braking but it only activates when the driver presses the brake pedal. When coasting is safer than braking, the driver can simply ease off the pedal.

The Model X owner who filed the proposed class action reported this dangerous inability to coast to Tesla. The company tells its customers that software fixes are available for reported problems and will be provided as software updates that are initiated over the air.

The plaintiff says Tesla has done nothing to fix the problem. “Despite making such a representation to the consumers,” reads the complaint, “Tesla failed to correct the loss of stability caused by regenerative braking through its over-the-air software update system.”

The lawsuit was filed in another state and has not yet been approved as a class action. If you have experienced abnormal braking with a Tesla Model X or Model S — or with any vehicle — we recommend contacting a Kansas City product liability attorney – experienced in automotive product liability law.