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Korean Celebrity Sues Tesla, Claiming Model X Sped Up On Its Own

  • Ji-chang Son, a South Korean actor, singer, and songwriter is suing Tesla Motors for what he says is a spontaneous acceleration of his Model X which crashed through his house in September 2016
  • Ji-chang Son is suing Tesla Motors for product liability, negligence, and breaches of warranty and is seeking unspecified damages
  • The suit, filed on December 30, 2016, seeks class action status based on records of seven other similar constraints registered in a database by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • In a statement to Electrek, Tesla claims that “the evidence, including data from the car, conclusively shows that the crash was the result of Mr. Son pressing the accelerator pedal all the way to 100%”
  • Tesla added: “Before filing his class action lawsuit against Tesla, Mr. Son had threatened to use his celebrity status in Korea to hurt Tesla unless we agreed to make a financial payment and acknowledge that the vehicle accelerated on its own. However, the evidence clearly shows the vehicle was not at fault. Our policy is to stand by the evidence and not to give in to ultimatums”
  • According to Electrek, “it is interesting that in every single one of the accidents that we researched, the alleged sudden unintended acceleration events occurred at a moment when the driver would have been about to press on the brake pedal to bring the vehicle to a complete stop”
  • Tesla Motor, in its marketing, claims Model X is the safest SUV in history

According to The Korea Times, Korea’s automobile market grew to be the 10th largest in the world in 2015. 1.83 million vehicles were registered which represents a 10.3% increase from 2014. Korean market represents 2% of global sales (China #1, US #2, Japan #3, Germany #4, India #5, UK #6, Brazil #7, France #8, Canada #9).

According to Financial Times, sales of premium cars priced above $86,000 in Korea rose 52.5% in 2015 to 22,844 units. Market share of imported vehicles reached 15.8% in Korea. According to Yoon Dae-Sung, an executive manager at Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association, “Korea is one of the few markets, apart from the US, where people prefer large vehicles despite traffic congestion and cramped parking lots, because cars are seen as their status symbol.”

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) is an American automaker and energy storage company co-founded by Elon Musk. As of end of 2016, TSLA had a market cap of $34.3 billion. In November 2016, Tesla closed a transaction to acquire SolarCity for $2 billion – Elon Musk owned 22% of SolarCity prior to the acquisition.  

Image Source: Los Angeles Herald
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