Tesla Says Someone Likely in Driver’s Seat in Texas Crash

Tesla Inc. believes someone was in the driver’s seat during the fatal crash of a Model S in Texas earlier this month, though it hasn’t been able to retrieve all the data from the vehicle.

Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, said on the company’s earnings call Monday that the automaker is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, two U.S. agencies that have launched probes into the bizarre crash.

“We were able to find that the steering wheel was indeed deformed, leading to the likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash,” Moravy said.

William Varner, 59, and Everette Talbot, 69, both died April 17, when the Model S hit a tree and caught on fire in the Woodlands, a wealthy neighborhood in greater Houston. Police said that “no one” was in the driver’s seat, which led to speculation that the vehicle’s Autopilot technology may have been a factor.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, which is also investigating, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Moravy’s remarks are Tesla’s most extensive to date. The NTSB hasn’t released any information on the crash.

For more on Tesla’s first-quarter earnings, click here for our TOPLive blog.

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