A Tesla logo on a Model S is photographed inside of a Tesla dealership in New York.Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Two men died in a Tesla crash in Spring, Texas on Saturday night, and apparently nobody was behind the wheel, according to local police interviewed by reporter Deven Clarke at NBC affiliate KPRC 2.
The Tesla vehicle crashed into a tree and burst into flames, according to the reports. One person was found in the front passenger seat, and another in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle.
Based on a preliminary investigation, police told KPRC 2 they believe nobody had been behind the wheel, but they have not finished their comprehensive investigation. A preliminary investigation is not conclusive.
Police did not immediately answer CNBC’s questions about whether the driver could have moved or been ejected from his seat during or after the collision
Fire fighters reportedly used 32,000 gallons of water and spent hours suppressing the fire that resulted from the electric vehicle crash.
As CNBC has previously reported, Tesla sells automated driving systems under the brand monikers Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving (FSD). It also releases a “beta” version of Full Self Driving (FSD beta) software to some customers who have the premium FSD option, which currently costs $10,000.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on a Feb. 11 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast: “I think Autopilot’s getting good enough that you won’t need to drive most of the time unless you really want to.”
Tesla Autopilot and FSD are not capable of controlling the electric vehicles in all normal driving circumstances.
In a letter to the California DMV late last year, according to records obtained by CNBC and others, Tesla lawyers said that “neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system.” And in their owners’ manuals, Tesla cautions drivers: “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
Nonetheless, many Tesla fans and influencers share videos on social media that show people driving hands free for prolonged periods, asleep at the wheel or with nobody in the driver’s seat.
For example, actor Jamie Foxx shared a video on his YouTube channel where he pretended