Shares of Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) stock slipped 2.5% in morning trading on the NASDAQ Wednesday, apparently hurt by a pair of bad news items — and a Barron’s report — just the day before.
As Barron’s reports, “safety appears to be the main reason” Tesla stock is struggling this week, as investors worry over news that one Tesla investor’s new Model S Plaid electric car burst into flames last week — while a separate family has launched a wrongful death suit against the company, blaming the performance of its “Autopilot” driver-assistance software.
Some details are in order. Regarding the Plaid fire, The New York Post reported late last week that “a brand-new Tesla Model S Plaid … burst into flames in Pennsylvania” Tuesday in “a harrowing unexplained inferno.” That’s bad PR in and of itself, but what may make it worse is that the EV in question was owned by Susquehanna analyst Bart Smith.
While it’s not yet certain, this incident has the potential to turn “a longtime fan of the brand” into an enemy of Tesla — which might not be great news for the stock price.
Separately, The New York Times says a family in California is accusing Tesla of “partial” responsibility in the death of a 15-year-old child who was killed when a Tesla, possibly operating on Autopilot, collided with the family’s pickup truck.
All that being said, some context may also be in order. Because it’s a high-profile company, bad news about Tesla tends to gravitate to the top of news headlines. But according to data from Tesla — which admittedly has a vested interest in setting the record straight on this front — the first quarter of 2021 saw an average of:
- One accident per 4.2 million miles driven on cars using Autopilot, versus…
- One accident per 2 million miles driven in Teslas not using Autopilot but using other “active safety features,” versus…
- One accident per 978,000 miles driven in Teslas using neither Autopilot nor other active safety features, versus…
- One accident per 484,000 miles driven in cars in the United States on average.
Long story short and headlines notwithstanding, the data sure does seem to suggest that Teslas are anywhere from twice to nine times safer than any other car on the road — and over the long term, that data has to be good news for the stock price.