The driver was going 100 km/h (62 mph) in the city; Tesla apparently said he hit the accelerator pedal.
More and more electric car news comes from China. We have written quite a few already, but there is always a difficulty in getting more details. Thankfully, having a broad international audience helps us solve language issues and get the information we need, as in the case of the Tesla Model 3 that smashed into a gated parking lot. We can now tell you a little more about this alleged Sudden Unintended Acceleration episode.
A radio station in China called FM93 Traffic Voice was contacted by Mr. Chen, the Tesla Model 3 driver. He is not a politician, as the first reports said he was, and Chen may not even be his real name, which could be protected for legal reasons.
Chen told the radio station that the accident happened on August 12 at around 11 PM in Wenzhou. He took a “road from the Shuangle residential area in Lucheng District” that was going through some sort of repair. This seems to be his excuse for going 100 km/h (62 mph) on the urban road.
“I drove five or six kilometers at that speed. When I got to about 100 meters (328 ft) away from the parking lot, the car suddenly accelerated. I stepped on the brake but it was useless. After that, the car got out of control and flew into the parking lot.”
It is a little more complicated than that. When things started to develop, Chen’s Model 3 hit the toll booth railing, invaded the parking lot, went upside down (as the video above shows), hit multiple cars and got out of the parking lot, ending up on the sidewalk outside it after hitting light poles as well. Chen went through surgery and needed five liters of blood transfusion.
According to the Chinese driver himself, he was speeding, which is the first point to be really careful about. He could have reached the parking lot too soon and mixed the pedals, for example. This is apparently what Tesla told him.
“I called their customer support line and then the Nanjing crew called me back. They said that they could see my data behind the Tesla system, and the system detected that everything was fine with the car. They also said I didn't hit the brakes and that I stepped on the accelerator myself. I said I'm an old driver, I've been driving for more than a decade. This is my third car. No drinking or drug driving. As a normal person, the first reaction to driving is to brake."
Chen said his car was picked by the end of March 2020 and that he would not expect such a brand new vehicle would present this sort of problem. Anyway, it could also mean that he was still getting to know his Model 3. It would be nice to learn how often he drove it before the crash.
The Chinese media tried to get in touch with Tesla, but it did not reply to any questions. The Chinese authorities in charge of the investigation said it is still ongoing. Again, we ask our readers to keep us posted on the results. For all the evidence presented so far, this seems like a human-caused accident. Unless someone proves Jason Hughes wrong, it seems there is no way any Tesla would provoke sudden unintended acceleration incidents.
Hat tip to Minmin Wang!