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September 22, 2016

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Tesla sued in Beijing court over fatal car crash in Hebei

THE father of a Chinese man killed while driving a Tesla sedan has sued the United States electric car maker over an alleged fault with its Autopilot system, the family’s attorney said yesterday.

Gao Yaning, the 23-year-old driver, died in January after his Tesla Model S slammed into a road-sweeping vehicle on a highway in the northern province of Hebei. His father Gao Jubin filed the case against the company in June, lawyer Cui Qiuna said.

The family believed the son was driving in Tesla’s Autopilot mode and accused the firm of overstating the function’s capabilities, she said.

During the trial’s opening session in Beijing on Tuesday, Gao asked for an investigation into whether the autopilot was activated when the accident occurred, she added.

Gao has demanded Tesla stop using the phrase “automatic driving” in its promotion of Autopilot, publicly apologize for false advertising and pay 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) in compensation for the family’s grief due to the son’s death, Cui said.

“Tesla has been in contact with Mr Gao over reconciliation conditions but has yet to put forward a concrete solution.”

Tesla officials did not respond to request for comment.

The company has said the Autopilot system, introduced last year, is not a fully autonomous system and drivers are cautioned that they need to be at the wheel and in control.

The system allows the vehicle to automatically change lanes, manage speed and brake to avoid a collision. It may be overridden by the driver.

A Florida driver died in May after Autopilot failed to detect a truck and collided with it.


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