Tesla's Autopilot system under scrutiny in fatal China crash

FILE - In this Monday, April 25, 2016, file photo, a staff member cleans the hood of a Tesla Model S electric car near a display advertising Tesla's self-driving features at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing, China. Tesla says it can't verify whether a vehicle autopilot system is to blame for the death of a Chinese man whose father claimed in a report broadcasted Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, on state television that the driver-assist feature was active at the time of his crash. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

BEIJING — Tesla faces new scrutiny in China about its vehicle Autopilot system after state television broadcast allegations that a man killed in a crash had activated the driver-assist feature of his car.

The state broadcaster CCTV aired a report Wednesday about a January crash that killed 23-year-old Gao Yaning. The report included apparent dash cam footage of the car slamming into a slow-moving orange truck.

An official interviewed in the report said the car's Autopilot feature was active at the time of the crash. CCTV reported Gao's family has sued Tesla in a Beijing court, though the lawsuit was not available in online court records. Officials at the court did not answer the phone on Thursday, a Chinese holiday.

Tesla said in a statement that the car was too damaged in the wreck to transmit data to company servers, and that Gao's family had not cooperated with the company's investigation.

"We have tried repeatedly to work with our customer to investigate the cause of the crash, but he has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so," it said.

A spokeswoman for the company did not respond to questions about what the car had reported before the crash.

The nationally broadcast report was a potential setback for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla's efforts to expand in China, the world's largest auto market. Tesla has explored building a manufacturing plant in China, but under national regulations that would require it to partner with a domestic company.

Both in China and the U.S., Tesla has faced scrutiny and criticism over its marketing of driver-assist features. Last month, the company revised language on its Chinese website that it said would make clearer to drivers that its Autopilot system was not self-driving.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating the May death of a 40-year-old Tesla driver in Florida. The Tesla driver-assist feature was engaged during the crash of the Tesla Model S sedan.

Must Read

China says it can't end North Korea nuke program...

Sep 12, 2016

China says the United States has inflamed the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and must carry the...

Argentine soccer star Carlos Tevez signs $40M...

Dec 29, 2016

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez has signed to play for Shanghai Shenhua, becoming the latest in a...

China starts 2017 engulfed by smog, issues...

Jan 2, 2017

Beijing and other cities across northern and central China are shrouded in thick smog, prompting...

China says some factories have violated anti-smog...

Jan 3, 2017

China's environmental ministry says an unspecified number of companies have violated measures meant...

DEA opens shop in China to help fight synthetic...

Jan 6, 2017

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plans to open a new office in southern China and, at...

Sign up now!

Advertisement