Two men are dead after a Tesla (TSLA) that appeared to not be driven by anyone crashed into a tree in Texas and caught fire on Saturday night, according to local authorities. Tesla stock fell.
Police have not yet completed their investigation. But early reports indicate one person was in the front passenger seat and another in the rear passenger seat of the 2019 Model S.
A final report of the crash could indicate if the car’s Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) features were engaged, or if a driver might have been ejected from the driver’s seat and into another seat.
Firefighters reportedly used 32,000 gallons of water and took several hours to douse the fire after the electric car exploded.
Police told The New York Times that the wives of the men, ages 59 and 69, heard them talking about the car’s Autopilot feature minutes before going for a drive.
Tesla sells automated driving systems under the brands Autopilot and FSD. It currently allows customers who bought the premium FSD option for $10,000 to test a “beta” version of the software.
Earlier in the day on Saturday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that internal data showed that “Tesla with Autopilot engaged (is) now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle.”
But in a letter to the California DMV last year, Tesla lawyers said Autopilot and FSD are not autonomous systems.
Currently, individual states regulate self-driving systems, and not the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, NHTSA has been evaluating consumer comments as it prepares to establish some rules. As of last month, the federal agency had opened 27 investigations into Tesla crashes; 23 of them are still active.
Shares dropped 5.5% to 698.35 on the stock market today. Tesla stock dipped below its 50-day line, which is sloping downward. On a weekly chart, it has formed a cup base with a buy point of 900.50, according to MarketSmith chart analysis.
The relative strength line has been trending lower from its highs in early January. Tesla stock is down 22% from its all-time high of 900.40.
Follow Adelia Cellini Linecker on Twitter @IBD_Adelia.
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