Tesla calls Model 3 the safest car ever tested in spite of cease-and-desist

Aug 7, 2019, 12:39 PM
Tesla Model 3...
A federal safety regulator demanded last fall that Tesla stop claiming the Model 3 is the safest car ever tested. But Tesla has stood by the claim. Photo: Tesla

(CNN) — A federal safety regulator demanded last fall that Tesla stop claiming the Model 3 is the safest car ever tested. But Tesla has stood by the claim.

Tesla says Model 3 occupants have “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.” The claim is still on the company’s website. But in a cease-and-desist letter dated October 17, 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s chief counsel wrote to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, saying it “is impossible to say based on the frontal crash results or overall vehicle scores whether the Model 3 is safer than other 5-Star rated vehicles.”

The letter came to light this week after an exchange of letters and emails between NHTSA and Tesla executives starting last October and running through February of this year was posted on Plainsite, a legal transparency website. The documents were released under a Freedom of Information Act request. It was first reported by Bloomberg.

NHTSA’s letter said this wasn’t the first time Tesla has violated agency guidelines for using the federal crash test data in marketing or advertising. The regulator said it was referring Tesla to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to investigate whether the company had engaged in unfair or deceptive acts.

It is not clear from the documents if NHTSA or the FTC are pursuing action against Tesla at this time.

Tesla sent a response to that letter on October 31, 2018, standing by its analysis of NHTSA data.

“Tesla’s statements are neither untrue nor misleading,” said the letter sent to NHTSA from Tesla deputy general counsel Al Prescott. “To the contrary, Tesla has provided consumers with fair and objective information to compare the relative safety of vehicles having 5-star overall ratings.”

The automaker says that 40% of cars now have 5-star safety ratings from NHTSA, so “it is more important than ever to help consumers differentiate.”

A Tesla spokesman had no comment on Wednesday and referred to the company’s letter to NHTSA as its position on the matter. NHTSA did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning, and a spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment.

The initial letter from NHTSA came just after the Securities and Exchange Commission and Tesla had reached a settlement over charges that Musk had deceived investors when he had tweeted in August that he had “funding secured” to take the company private. Tesla and Musk each agreed to pay $20 million to settle that dispute, and the SEC dropped its demand that Musk be removed as CEO.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories


FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 02:   In this aerial view,  destruction left in the wake of Hur...
Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Florida faces an ’emotional roller coaster’ as search for Hurricane Ian survivors continues

Many of the Ian-related deaths -- 42 -- have been reported in southwestern Florida's Lee County, which includes Fort Myers and Sanibel Island.
1 day ago
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Sacheen Littlefeather on stage at AMPAS Presents An Evening...
Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American activist and actress, dead at 75

In August, the Academy formally apologized to Littlefeather for the mistreatment she experienced during her speech and in the years that followed.
1 day ago
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said that he will vote against any potential congressional d...
Devan Cole, CNN

Rubio vows to oppose potential Hurricane Ian aid package if lawmakers ‘load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm’

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he will vote against any potential congressional disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Ian if lawmakers "load it up with stuff that's unrelated to the storm."
2 days ago
Damage from Hurricane Ian...
Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Death toll rises to 67 in Florida after Hurricane Ian rendered some communities ‘unrecognizable,’ officials say

Days after Hurricane Ian slammed into Florida, shell-shocked residents are still assessing the damage left behind by record-high storm surge, damaging winds and catastrophic flooding
2 days ago
Amazon email...
Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN Business

Amazon is always watching

At an invite-only press event last week, Amazon unveiled a long list of product updates ahead of the holiday shopping season that appear designed to further insert its gadgets and services into every corner of our homes with the apparent goal of making everything a little easier.
2 days ago
At least 127 people are dead and hundreds more injured, police say, after chaos and violence erup...
Heather Chen, Raja Razek and Kareem El Damanhoury, CNN

Indonesia stadium riot: At least 127 people reported dead following soccer match, police say

At least 127 people are dead and hundreds more injured, police say, after chaos and violence erupted late on Saturday following an Indonesian league soccer match between two of the nation's biggest teams.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Tesla calls Model 3 the safest car ever tested in spite of cease-and-desist