CEO had angry telephone exchange with NTSB chief
fell after Musk’s combative call this week with analysts
weeks before Elon Musk held his fractious conference call with
Wall Street analysts, he hung up on Washington’s top
transportation accident investigator.
Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety
Board, called the feisty builder of new-age cars and rockets on
April 11 to tell him that blog posts byTesla
Inc.casting blame on the driver of a
Model X for a fatal crash had gone too far. The NTSB had earlier
warned Tesla not to make statements about the accident while it
was being investigated by the board.
then said he was taking the unusual step of kicking the
company’s representatives off the investigation.
I remember, he hung up on us,” Sumwalt told attendees of the
International Society of Air Safety Investigators’ Mid-Atlantic
Regional Chapter dinner Thursday. It was his first public
comments on the exchange.
the speech, Sumwalt had been discussing the NTSB’s long-time
practice of enlisting companies and other government agencies to
assist its investigations and praised the cooperation it
Airlines Co.following an engine failure that killed a
passenger on April 17.
the conversation between Sumwalt and Musk, the company took the
initiative and issued a statement saying it “withdrew” from the
probe. Only later on April 12 did the NTSB issue a release
saying it had actually removed the car manufacturer.
is lookingat why the battery on the
Model X caught fire after the car struck a highway barrier in
Mountain View, California, on March 23. After NTSB opened the
investigation, Tesla announced that the car was being guided by
the semi-autonomous driving feature known as Autopilot and the
driver’s hands hadn’t been detected on the wheel for six
seconds. NTSB then expanded the probe to look at the autonomous
NTSB, which is also investigating a January Tesla crash near Los
Angeles, hasn’t released a preliminary report yet on the
Mountain View crash.
its removal, Tesla accused NTSB of being “more concerned with
press headlines than actually promoting safety” and defended its
right to warn other drivers to remain engaged while using
Autopilot. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request
for comment on Sumwalt’s latest speech.
outspoken Musk generated headlines this week, as well as a
tumble in his company’s share price, byrejecting
questionsfrom financial analysts during
a call to release financial earnings. He called inquiries
"boneheaded" and "absurd."
cut off analysts and got defensive about probing questions
pertaining to the company’s finances.