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Tesla cars are allegedly accelerating without warning, prompting government scrutiny

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This isn’t the first time that Tesla has faced accusations of malfunctioning vehicles

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that it is weighing whether to launch an investigation into “sudden unexpected acceleration” of 500,000 Tesla vehicles, according to Reuters.

The petition covers Tesla Model S (2012-2019 model year), Model X (2016-2019), and Model 3 (2018-2019) vehicles, Reuters says. It also cites 127 consumer complaints, 123 unique vehicles, 110 crashes, and 52 injuries. A spokesperson for Tesla did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

“As is the agency’s standard practice in such matters, NHTSA will carefully review the petition and relevant data,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

Anyone can submit a petition requesting NHTSA to open an investigation into an alleged safety defect. After conducting a technical analysis, the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation informs the petitioner whether it will move forward with an investigation.

This isn’t the first time that Tesla has faced accusations of malfunctioning vehicles. In November 2018, the electric automaker resolved a class action lawsuit from customers who claimed their Model S and X vehicles would suddenly accelerate without warning. Another lawsuit was filed last year by Mena Massoud, star of Disney’s live-action Aladdin, who claimed a faulty suspension caused the wheel of his Model 3 to come off a day after he bought it. And most recently, NHTSA opened an investigation into complaints about vehicle fires connected to the battery management systems in some Model S and X vehicles.

Tesla has also come under fire over safety concerns involving its advanced driver assistance system, Autopilot. The National Transportation Safety Board announced plans yesterday to hold a public hearing in February to determine the probable cause of the fatal crash of a Tesla in Mountain View, California in 2017.

There have been a number of reports of Tesla owners crashing their vehicles while using Autopilot, as well as a handful of people who have been killed while using Autopilot. Tesla has consistently said that drivers who use Autopilot are safer than those who don’t.