The driver of an electric Tesla taxi involved in a fatal accident in Paris last weekend was on Wednesday charged with manslaughter and causing unintentional injuries, a judicial source said.
The taxi was not in service when the driver, who was travelling with his wife and daughters on Saturday evening, lost control in the French capital’s 13th district. One person died and 19 were injured in the incident.
Taxi company G7 on Tuesday said it would suspend the use of its 37 Model 3 Teslas in its fleet following the accident, but Tesla ruled out any technical failure.
“My client is very shocked by the accident, which was particularly violent,” the driver’s lawyer, Sarah Saldmann, told AFP.
“He did everything to press on the brake pedal, which was blocked, and meanwhile the car raced away and went too fast,” she said, adding that the car had no handbrake.
Saldmann also said the electric vehicle was bought new three months previously and had shown no problems.
Prosecutors opened a preliminary inquiry on Saturday and handed over investigations to judges on Wednesday to determine the causes of the accident.
Tesla’s safety record has been questioned in the past over a series of fatal accidents linked to its cars’ Autopilot driver assistance programme, which can steer, brake and accelerate a vehicle on its own.
The Model 3 Tesla is the American company’s best-selling model. It is not autonomous but comes with motorway assistance requiring drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.