Recently, a significant event unfolded in the automotive industry as a whistleblower associated with Tesla leaked a substantial amount of data to the German media outlet, Handlesblatt.
This whistleblower, whose identity remains undisclosed, provided the publication with approximately 100GB of confidential information.
The huge Tesla leak includes a multitude of serious complaints by Tesla owners concerning the safety of Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) features. Handlesblatt aptly titled this leak “My autopilot almost killed me: Tesla files cast doubt on Elon Musk’s promises.”
Let’s dig in more about the leak and talk about how Tesla is always in the news!
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Huge Tesla Data Leak
In a stunning revelation, a trove of internal Tesla documents, amounting to 100 gigabytes, has been leaked to the German newspaper Handelsblatt. These leaked documents paint a troubling picture of technical limitations within the electric vehicle (EV) giant.
The files detail alarming incidents such as cars colliding with bollards, sudden and unexplained braking to avoid nonexistent collisions, and over 2,400 complaints from owners reporting their vehicles accelerating uncontrollably. This leak raises serious questions about Tesla’s technical capabilities and the safety of its vehicles, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the company’s reputation and its promise of cutting-edge technology.
As always, let’s begin with a reality check: Tesla’s much-touted “Full Self-Driving” system is not some enchanting car butler ready to chauffeur you to your desired destination. It’s essentially fancy cruise control with bells and whistles.
If you dare to neglect your role as the responsible driver, be prepared for potential disasters. However, credit must be given where it’s due – it’s undeniably an impressive feat of engineering. 10 points to Tesla tech for that. Right?
The leaked information has sparked a renewed discussion about the reliability and effectiveness of Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self Driving capabilities, which have been at the forefront of Elon’s vision for the future of EVs.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has consistently made promises and claims regarding Autopilot controls, asserting their superiority and safety compared to conventional driving methods.
However, the data leaked by the German whistleblower paints a different picture. Thousands of complaints from Tesla owners were included in the leaked files of over 100 GB of data, revealing instances where the Autopilot and FSD features allegedly posed serious risks to both drivers and passengers.
Tesla Autopilot Complaints
As much as 2,400 issues of self-acceleration and over 1,500 issues of brakes are definitely alarming for a self-drive system of Tesla’s caliber.
These complaints describe harrowing experiences, with numerous near-miss accidents, instances of sudden swerving, unanticipated braking, and other malfunctions allegedly occurring while the autonomous features were engaged.
These complaints include around 139 accounts of unintentional braking by the Autopilot and 383 counts of Tesla FSD’s phantom stops. These upgraded features of Tesla’s Autopilot suite are considered to be the best among the whole autonomous driving lot.
The leaked data also indicates that Tesla’s internal records were aware of these complaints and the potential risks associated with their autonomous features. This revelation has raised questions about the transparency and accountability of the company in addressing these concerns and ensuring the safety of its customers.
Tesla’s Response to Handelsblatt’s Claim of Leaked Tesla Files
Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self Driving systems have long been under scrutiny, with incidents and accidents involving the technology receiving significant media attention. Critics argue that the company has been overly optimistic about the capabilities of its autonomous features, potentially leading to a false sense of security among drivers.
This leak further fuels the debate over the readiness of self-driving technology and the level of human oversight required to ensure safe operation.
In response to the leak, Tesla has yet to release an official statement addressing the specific allegations raised in the Handlesblatt article. The company has previously defended its autonomous technology, emphasizing that it requires active driver supervision and that drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles at all times.
Nonetheless, the leaked data has undoubtedly cast doubt on the promises made by Elon Musk and raised concerns about the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self Driving features.
It would be unfair to claim that Tesla gets away with everything, as the company has faced its share of penalties and fines. The EPA, for instance, has fined Tesla’s plants for longstanding violations that were widely known ($275,000). The SEC also imposed a $40 million fine on Musk and Tesla over tweets concerning the business, although Musk was cleared in a lawsuit related to his “funding secured” tweets.
Yet, despite these setbacks, Tesla remains a dominant force, and Elon Musk continues to rank among the world’s wealthiest individuals. Other major players, such as Google and Facebook, have also weathered their fair share of controversies and yet continue to thrive.
To contrast, consider Volkswagen’s involvement in one of the most significant automotive frauds in history, leading to billion-dollar fines and prison sentences for some involved in the Dieselgate scandal. But, Volkswagen acknowledged its wrongdoing, accepted accountability and implemented substantial changes to its electric vehicle strategy.
Why Tesla FSD Is Always Under Criticism?
For Tesla, the pursuit of self-driving vehicles goes beyond innovation—it’s a matter of survival. According to CEO Elon Musk, the ability to develop a functional autopilot system will determine whether Tesla thrives or fades into obscurity, as he stated in June 2022.
Not too long ago, Tesla’s market value was way ahead of that of industry giants like BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes, Toyota, and Volkswagen combined, reaching an astonishing $1.2 trillion in November 2021. However, today, that value has plummeted to less than half its peak.
Never before has a company experienced such a drastic loss in market capitalization within such a short period. This might actually be the reason why Tesla hastily rolled out the FSD suite to all and came up with global price slashes to keep its survival afloat.
Lawsuit Against Tesla Autopilot
Alongside this financial turbulence, Tesla finds itself entangled in numerous lawsuits related to its driver assistance systems, while the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts an investigation.
The recent leak of substantial amounts of internal information further suggests that Tesla’s challenges with its autopilot technology could be even more substantial than previously believed. As the stakes remain high, the future of Tesla’s autonomous ambitions hangs in the balance.
But that doesn’t mean Tesla is all devil in the story and doesn’t deserve any slack. The leak, which was reported by the newspaper on May 25, has caused quite a stir. The leaked information includes an alleged email from Tesla, shedding light on the matter.
Tesla’s Email to Handelsblatt
According to the email, the automaker suspects a former service technician as the potential source of the leak. The email reveals that Handelsblatt, a renowned publication, had contacted Tesla on May 10 to discuss the leaked materials. In response, Tesla reportedly replied on May 16, requesting copies of the leaked materials and urging the publication to delete any information it had received.
The revelation that a service technician would have access to such a vast amount of data has raised numerous concerns and prompted questions regarding Tesla’s data security protocols. It begs the question of why an individual in that role would possess the means to access such sensitive information in the first place.
It might appear as if Tesla and Musk cleverly cloak their actions in a mission to save the planet from various threats like global warming, AI, or depopulation. This framing allows them to justify their means by the desired ends.
But in many cases, they are not entirely wrong.
Climate change is a real and pressing issue, and Tesla’s defiance of norms, such as dealership franchise laws, has played a crucial role in ushering in a new era in the automotive industry. Sometimes, pushing boundaries is necessary, and with great risk comes great rewards. However, it is becoming increasingly disconcerting that it is consistently the same individual who gets to push those boundaries repeatedly.
What To Expect In The Future?
The leaked documents obtained by Handlesblatt have provided insights into Tesla’s approach to addressing customer issues, as well as giving away the company’s inclination to keep vehicle data under wraps.
While these revelations are concerning, they are not entirely unexpected. In response to the leak, Tesla’s reaction followed a familiar pattern: avoiding direct answers to questions and insisting on the deletion of the leaked data.
It’s important to note that Tesla’s demand for data erasure does not confirm the authenticity of the leaked information. However, Handlesblatt, known for its reputable journalism, claims to have received information from multiple sources, further adding to the credibility of the leak.
Handlesblatt had previously sent a comprehensive list of questions to Tesla’s editorial team, which went unanswered. Instead of addressing the concerns raised, Tesla focused on accusing the outlet of data theft. The situation continues to unfold, and the handling of this leak raises questions about transparency and accountability within Tesla’s operations.
Many Tesla owners find themselves as unwitting participants in an unconsented FSD beta test, with limited recourses for any action. This audacious “move fast and break things” approach does have the potential for calamitous outcomes.
However, unless it veers into the realm of outright fraud, the Silicon Valley elite have discovered that the rewards of being right outweigh the costs of occasional missteps. It’s a calculated gamble they’re willing to take, banking on astronomical valuations as their ultimate vindication.
Tesla Privacy Concerns
Our takeaway from all of this is that, in the grand scheme of things, adherence to rules and regulations doesn’t seem to matter much to Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk. There’s an inherent disdain for traditional norms within the company, and this sentiment extends even further with Musk at the helm.
There’s a sense of Silicon Valley arrogance, believing that regulators and lawmakers are far behind the curve (which is often true) and that it’s worth pushing boundaries and enduring occasional reprimands in order to forge a better future and reap significant financial gains (which, again, is largely true).
A new tech often represents a calculated approach that prioritizes innovation and disruption over strict compliance with existing frameworks.
As the story develops, the leaked information is going to spark further discussions about autonomous driving. The responsibility of car manufacturers and the importance of regulations in ensuring the safety of new technologies will once again take center stage.
It remains to be seen how Tesla or Elon will address the allegations and the potential impact this leak will have on the company’s reputation and the future of autonomous driving. We request you to share your views in our comment section to shed some more light on the Tesla Autopilot stories!