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Tesla (TSLA) Crash in Florida Triggers 2nd NTSB Scrutiny This Year

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The Tesla (TSLA - Free Report) vehicle crash in Florida last week, which killed two people, will be investigated by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

On Sep 13, two people were killed when a Tesla Model 3 collided into a tree and caught fire in Coral Gables, FL. Post the accident, the NTSB tweeted that it is sending a team of three investigators to the accident scene to probe the fiery crash. The NTSB, which makes safety recommendations but does not regulate automakers, noted that it will look closely at the new technology integrated in the Tesla Model 3. The NTSB probe will focus on the operation of the electric compact sedan, and the post-crash fire that exploded and destroyed the car.

Per the Coral Gables police, it is still debatable whether or not the Tesla Model 3 involved in the crash was using the electric vehicle (EV) giant’s driver-assistance system called Autopilot. The NTSB will commence its investigation today and plans to complete the work within a week, so as to issue a preliminary report in about 30 days.

This will be the second probe by the agency in a fatal accident involving Tesla’s models in less than six months’ time. The NTSB is also investigating a lethal crash in Texas involving a Model S sedan that crashed into a tree and burst into flames, killing both passengers this April.

This is not the first time that the EV maker has grabbed eyeballs for the wrong reasons. Several Tesla cars have been involved in crashes earlier as well, where the automaker's Autopilot semi-autonomous driving assist technology was blamed. In some cases, the battery of the car reportedly caused fire incidents.

Tesla’s famous Autopilot handles some driving tasks, such as steering, braking and acceleration, and allows drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel at times but the EV king has still warned drivers to actively supervise the vehicle when using this system. The NTSB had previously investigated three deadly Tesla crashes in which its Autopilot was involved.

Also, the lithium-ion batteries that run the Tesla vehicles are highly flammable and extremely difficult to douse. Once damaged, these can reignite hours or days after being extinguished. In January, the NTSB issued a special report about the threats of battery fires used in electric cars, pointing out that auto manufacturers have left emergency responders endangered to battery blazes.

The latest federal inquiry comes as Tesla faces enhanced scrutiny from regulators. Last month, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) commenced a formal safety probe into Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system after a series of crashes between Tesla vehicles and first responder vehicles occurred.

Wedbush Projects Tesla to Hit 1.3M Deliveries in 2022

Wedbush Securities, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, anticipates Tesla will deliver 900,000 cars in 2021, followed by 1.3 million deliveries in 2022.

Tesla’s annual delivery count has been gaining momentum for years now. As evidence, in 2018, Tesla delivered 245,240 vehicles and in 2019, roughly 367,500 vehicles were delivered. Last year, 499,550 Tesla vehicles were sold.

Analysts would have expected Tesla to achieve 1 million deliveries in 2021, had the auto industry not been grappling the severe semiconductor chip dearth.
Nonetheless, amid the heightened climate change concerns, with automakers around the globe revving up their efforts to provide green transportation solutions, Tesla continues to dominate the EV sector and is well ahead of its competitors in terms of navigating past the supply-chain issues. Hence, Wedbush expects the EV giant to deliver a record-setting 900,000 cars this year.

Tesla, which shares space with General Motors (GM - Free Report) , Ford (F - Free Report) and Volkswagen (VWAGY - Free Report) , currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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