Subscribe

Tesla Autopilot probe widens after fatal crash to include the SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating a  fatal crash in Florida involving a Model S sedan in Autopilot mode, which could have huge financial implications for Tesla. How will the automaker and Elon Musk recover?

  • close
    The Tesla Model S version 7.0 software update containing Autopilot features is demonstrated during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, Calif.
    Beck Diefenbach/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Less than two weeks ago, we reported on a fatal crash in Florida involving a Tesla Model S sedan in self-driving, Autopilot mode. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began its investigation of the collision on June 28, and yesterday, we learned that the National Transportation Safety Board had taken the unusual step of getting involved, too.

Now, there's news that the Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating the matter, which could have implications of a different sort for Tesla. How will the automaker and its outspoken CEO, Elon Musk, recover?

SEC probe

The SEC investigation hinges on Tesla's delay in going public with information about the Autopilot crash. Though it occurred on May 7, Tesla didn't make mention of the collision until weeks later, on June 30, when it published a blog post detailing some of the key facts. (Coincidentally, June 30 is also when NHTSA announced its investigation of the crash.) 

And that, according to the SEC, may be a violation of securities law. The agency's investigation is meant to figure out whether the collision qualifies as a "material" event--one that could affect the value of Tesla stock and therefore, one that should've been announced to investors.

Complicating matters is the fact that Tesla was in the midst of fundraising when the fatal crash occurred. The company raised a total of $1.46 billion in a stock sale that wrapped up on May 19.

Curiously, Tesla stock has continued to climb in value, even after news of the collision began making headlines. On June 30, shares closed just over $212, and they're currently trading around $224.

Neither the SEC nor Tesla have commented on this particular investigation yet. Word of it comes from the always-knowledgeable "people familiar with the matter".

Secret plan

News of the SEC probe comes at the end of a very long couple of weeks for Tesla. Apart from reports about the May 7 collision and the investigations involving NHTSA, the NTSB, and now, the SEC, Tesla has also been dealing with reports of two non-fatal crashes--one in Pennsylvania, the other in Montana. Reports suggested that drivers in both incidents were using Autopilot at the time, though there's no proof of that yet.

On Sunday, however, Musk posted a tweet that had nothing whatsoever to do with Autopilot or accidents:

The article to which Musk responded was written by Jigar Shah. It envisions Tesla's purchase of SolarCity, which would create a vertically integrated, renewable energy-using, battery-powered powerhouse. More importantly, it would position Musk and Tesla at the forefront of the slow-but-steady green energy revolution.

If that's the case--if that's at the core of Musk's secret plan--would the details be enough to distract fans and investors from the grim headlines about Autopilot? We're not entirely sure, but we're curious to see what all the fuss is about.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK