Tesla chief defends self-driving cars after new crash

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It is unclear whether the vehicle was using Tesla's controversial autopilot system. "It came down to cost, and Elon was confident we wouldn't need it", said one person.

Tesla said it will pause production at its Fremont, California factory at the end of the May to work on fixes to its assembly line for its new Model 3 sedan, sources inside the company told Reuters.

An analyst at Morgan Stanley recently cut the company's target price from $376 to $291, signaling a loss of faith in the stock as Tesla struggles to hit production targets for its Model 3 vehicle ー the linchpin in Musk's strategy.

Tesla declined to comment for this story. The driver admitted to police she was looking at her phone just prior to the crash, and Tesla does alert drivers using Autopilot that they need to be ready to take control of the auto at any moment. The car's automatic emergency braking system was revised to allow it to work at speeds up to about 90 miles per hour (150 km, according to Tesla's actual specs), rather than 50 miles per hour before.

Despite this, CEO Elon Musk hit out at coverage in the immediate aftermath of the crash, asserting that a crash of this sort would usually result in "severe injury or death".

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was not investigating the Utah crash.

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A 48-year-old German driver died last Thursday when his vehicle hit a barrier on a highway in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, before flipping over and bursting into flames.

Two 18-year-olds were trapped in the vehicle and died in the flames.

In April, Musk was asked by "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, "what's the goal of having autopilot if you still have to put your hands on the wheel?" "It is not a self-driving system", Musk said. A driver was behind the wheel of the test vehicle in that case but failed to halt in time.

The driver of the Tesla may face charges for failing to maintain the safety of her vehicle, which would be a traffic infraction, according to police spokesman Sgt. Samuel Winkler.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway told the Deseret News, as of Monday evening, the agency had not opened an investigation into the Friday crash in South Jordan but would make an announcement if that status changed.

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