As expected, Tesla responded to the reports of a Model S crash in Germany.
On Wednesday a Tesla Model S rear-ended a bus on the German Autobahn. A local police report got picked up by the wires that said autopilot was on during the collision. As the accident gained wide-spread coverage, Tesla had no choice than to respond.
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The accident happened near the town of Ratzeburg in Northern Germany. According to the police report, a Tesla Model S rear-ended a Danish bus on the Autobahn A24 to Hamburg. The 29 passenger bus from Denmark was overtaking a truck and when getting back onto the right lane was hit by a Tesla. The 50-year-old Tesla driver stated that he was using autopilot when the crash happened.
The driver of the Tesla Model S suffered minor injuries. Nobody else was injured in the crash. The caused damage is estimated to be about 55,000 Euro (~$61,000).
The local police report was titled: "Autopilot did not work - collision with bus". A Tesla spokesperson said on Thursday that the Tesla customer told them the autopilot was on but was unrelated to the accident.
"We have spoken to our customer, who confirmed that Autopilot was functioning properly and that his use of Autopilot was unrelated to the accident," Tesla said in a statement according to Reuters.
The police report said that the bus was overtaking a truck and when coming back to the right lane the Tesla rear-ended the bus. Tesla says that the Tesla did not rear-end the bus, but the bus side-swiped the Tesla when swerved into the car's lane.
"We can only do so much to prevent an accident," said the Tesla spokeswoman.
The local police report states that the Tesla drive was at fault. There is no word about the bus side-swiping the Tesla. There will be more investigation needed. The police report is not matching what Tesla and the Tesla Model S owner are stating.
A side-swipe accident should be rather easy to identify. The damages on the bus and on the Model S should be able to tell the story of what really happened.
In any case, the incident makes clear again that you cannot drive with autopilot and not pay attention. Update: The German Police in Ratzeburg issued a corrected version of the report, removing Autopilot from the title.