A test drive in the Tesla Model S P90D, with updated Autopilot software that enables semi-autonomous driving as well as automatic parking and collision avoidance. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)
A Hunt Valley attorney is suing Tesla for more than $1 million, alleging the 2017 Model X 75D he bought had serious malfunctions — including faulty autopilot sensors that caused the car to swerve off the road on several occasions to avoid a nonexistent object.
Scott Breza, principal of Hofmeister and Breza’s Community Settlement Group, claims in his suit that Tesla was unable to fix problems with the $105,600 vehicle, which he purchased in August 2017.
“I have had multiple occurrences with the enhanced autopilot malfunctioning whereby the vehicle suddenly veered off the road,” Breza wrote in a September 2018 letter to the company that was included in the lawsuit filed this month. “I have had issues with the proximity sensors repeatedly warning me of a potential collision when there is nothing in proximity to the vehicle.”
The federal lawsuit, which says Tesla refused to replace the car, seeks a refund for the cost of the car, attorney’s fees and more than $1 million in damages.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. Breza’s attorney declined to comment.
In addition to the faulty autopilot sensors, the car’s problems included electronic system shutdowns, issues opening and closing the falcon-wing doors and rear hatch, and “loud popping” and “rattling” noises, according to the lawsuit.
The alleged defects “substantially impair the value of the vehicle and have not been corrected by Tesla in a reasonable number of attempts during the warranty period,” according to the complaint.
Take a look at the falcon wing doors of the all-electric Tesla Model X P90D AWD SUV at the Highland Park, Ill., store. Feb. 16, 2016. (Robert Duffer / Chicago Tribune)
Breza brought the vehicle in for repairs on six occasions in 2017 and 2018, and Tesla had the vehicle in its possession “for more than 88 days,” the attorney said in his letter.
“On more than one occasion, as a result of the [falcon-wing door] failures, the vehicle had to be towed to the repair facility,” the lawsuit says.
The alleged problems weren’t limited to the autopilot sensors or the inability to properly open and close the doors. Within a few weeks of buying the vehicle, Breza’s lawsuit said, he began to notice problems with the computer system, “which is integral to the safety and operations of the vehicle.”
The vehicle’s touch screen, dashboard display, heating and air conditioning, turn signals and other electronics “began to demonstrate long delays and then stop functioning completely,” the lawsuit said.
A former Tesla employee in New Jersey claimed in a whistleblower lawsuit that the company demoted and eventually fired him after he reported to his supervisors that Tesla was knowingly selling defective cars, The Verge reported.
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