Report: SEC Investigating Tesla for Failing To Disclose Fatal Crash

The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating Tesla Motor Co. for possibly breaking securities law by failing to disclose that one of its drivers had died while using the company's Autopilot semi-autonomous software.

After the May 7 death of driver Joshua Brown, who was behind the wheel of a Model S when it collided with a big rig in Florida, Tesla said it immediately reported the fatal crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Brown had been using Tesla's Autopilot mode, which when engaged will assist drivers in steering, braking and collision avoidance; the feature is still in a public beta phase.

The Palo Alto electric car maker characterized the death as "the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," but faced criticism for not disclosing the crash to the SEC, a possible breach of its corporate duty to inform the agency -- and thus, its investors -- of so-called material events.

On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, said the SEC was investigating. The agency declined to comment, and a Tesla spokesperson said the company had "not received any communication from the SEC regarding this issue."

NHTSA is conducting its own separate investigation, and the National Transportation Safety Board also is looking into the crash.

The reported SEC investigation is the latest in a string of worrisome developments -- including two other Autopilot incidents -- for the highly regarded automaker and its popular chief executive, Elon Musk.

Over the weekend, a driver in Montana crashed his Tesla and told the Montana Highway Patrol that Autopilot had been engaged. And NHTSA is looking into a July 6 crash in Pennsylvania in which a Model X flipped upside down while, its driver said, it was in self-driving mode.

And last week, Tesla announced that...

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