The Washington Post reports some conversations between the NHTSA and Tesla’s Elon Musk regarding safety concerns and recalls would turn hostile.
According to an anonymous former NHTSA safety official, Musk “screamed, protested and threatened to sue” when notified of an upcoming investigation in 2016.
The investigation came after a driver of a Tesla on Autopilot crashed into a tractor-trailer and was killed.
Musk also displayed stubbornness for trivial issues such as noncompliant sound effects or a malfunctioning heat pump.
Former officials said the NHTSA would use tactics including threats, flattery, pressure and ego challenges to get Musk to cooperate with federal safety measures.
Upon a request for comment, Musk told the Post in an email, “give my regards to your puppetmaster,” which refers to Jeff Bezos, who owns the publication.
As of May 2021, the NHTSA said it had conducted 34 special crash investigations concerning some form of automation — 28 of which involved Tesla vehicles.