The driver of a Tesla taxi that crashed in Paris, killing one person and injuring 19 others, is under official judicial investigation on suspicion of manslaughter.
The crash took place on Saturday, December 11.
It happened after the driver of the Model 3 Tesla taxi lost control of the vehicle. It ran over two pedestrians and hit a glass container and a traffic light, before coming to land by crashing into a van on a roundabout, police said.
The driver claims that his brake pedal became stuck, and he could not stop the vehicle.
Lawyer for the driver, Ms Sarah Saldmann, told the Agence France-Presse: “My client is really very shocked by the accident, which was particularly violent. It was an accident for him too.
“He did everything he could to step on the brake, which remained stuck, and in addition, the car went out of control and was driving very quickly.”
The taxi driver said he had only bought the electric vehicle “three months ago”, and it had not presented any issues until the crash.
What is the driver facing currently?
The driver is currently under mise en examen for manslaughter, which is called ‘involuntary homicide’ in France.
This means he is suspected of a criminal offence and is facing an investigation led by a judge. He is also under contrôle judiciare, meaning he is subject to certain legal obligations pending the investigation.
What happens now?
A preliminary inquiry into the accident has opened, and investigations are initially focusing on technical details of the vehicle.
The G7 Paris taxi company involved has decided to no longer use the 37 Tesla Model 3 vehicles in its fleet until the results of the inquiry have been released.
A spokesperson for the French arm of the American car giant has denied any ‘technical failings’ could have been to blame for the crash, in response to questioning by Le Monde.
The Tesla Model 3 topped the list of electric cars sold in France in the first half of 2021. It won out ahead of the Renault Zoé and the Peugeot e-208.
Unlike some Tesla cars, the Model 3 is not a self-driving vehicle. It does have a motorway driving assistance function, but this still requires drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel.
The inquiry into the crash continues.