Shares of the automaker slumped 2% Thursday after Bloomberg News reported a scuffle between Tesla and government investigators.
- Tesla has reportedly been booted from the federal investigation of a fatal Model X crash in California.
- Shares of the automaker slumped 2% Thursday after Bloomberg News reported a scuffle between Tesla and government investigators.
- Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here.
Shares of Tesla fell 2.57%, as low as $293.74, Thursday amid the company's disagreement with the National Transportation Safety Board regarding its investigation of a fiery Autopilot crash in California that killed one person.
Late Wednesday, the electric-car maker released a statement implying it had withdrawn from the investigation on its own accord, while still providing technical assistance to government investigators.
"Tesla withdrew from the party agreement with the NTSB because it requires that we not release information about Autopilot to the public, a requirement which we believe fundamentally affects public safety negatively," the company said. "We believe in transparency, so an agreement that prevents public release of information for over a year is unacceptable."
However, an official with knowledge of the investigation speaking with Bloomberg News on the condition of anonymity contradicted Tesla’s original claims, saying it was the NTSB which removed Tesla from the investigation. The source said Tesla’s removal was conveyed to CEO Elon Musk in a "tense" conversation, and that a formal announcement is expected later Thursday.
Tesla has repeatedly blamed the driver of the Model X, 38-year-old Apple engineer Walter Huang, for the crash. On Wednesday, Tesla responded to reports that Huang had previously complained to his family about his vehicle's performance on Autopilot in the area where the crash occurred.
"According to the family, Mr. Huang was well aware that Autopilot was not perfect and, specifically, he told them it was not reliable in that exact location, yet he nonetheless engaged Autopilot at that location," Tesla said in a statement, also mentioning that the driver's hands had been removed from the steering wheel for six seconds before impact.
What is a party agreement?
The purpose of party status is to enable NTSB investigators to receive technical advice and guidance.
"As a condition to being granted this status, parties sign an agreement that explicitly prohibits them from releasing investigative information to the media or to comment or analyze investigative findings without prior consultation with the NTSB," the agency has explained in detailing a previous instance when the agreement was violated. "Once the investigation is completed, all such restrictions are lifted."
The NTSB does not investigate every highway incident, as it does with every civil aviation accident. The agency’s website says it investigates "significant accidents in other modes of transportation."
Thursdays slump brings Tesla’s stock price back below a key $300 resistance level that it has been jumping above and below for weeks.
Wall Street is feeling more bearish on the stock as well, with an average price target of $320, just 7% above where it's trading Thursday. Last year, the Wall Street consensus was as high as $400.
Matt DeBord contributed to this report.