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Tesla to Clarify How Customers May Disclose Problems

June 10, 2016, 11:46 PM UTC
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

(Reuters) – Tesla has agreed to revise its customer repair agreements to allow owners to report potential safety issues to U.S. auto safety regulators, a government spokesman said on Friday.

The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), which on Thursday said Tesla had entered into a “troublesome nondisclosure agreement” with a Model S owner who had suspension problems, said on Friday it had confirmed “that Tesla has clarified the language … in a satisfactory way, resolving the issue.”

The California-based green car maker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

NHTSA stated its concerns about the nondisclosure agreement on Thursday as it said it was reviewing reports of suspension problems, but had not opened a formal investigation.

On Friday, NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas said Tesla was fully cooperating with the suspension review “and NHTSA’s examination of the data is under way. To date, NHTSA has not identified any safety issue with Tesla’s suspensions.”

Tesla (TSLA) on Thursday denied any suspension problems, saying extensive durability testing and review of customer issues “gives us high confidence in our suspensions.”

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said on Thursday that the agency was reviewing the automaker’s use of the agreements to see if they had impeded owners from making complaints.

Tesla said in a blog post late on Thursday that it “has never and would never ask a customer to sign a document to prevent them from talking to NHTSA or any other government agency. That is preposterous.”

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The company said it often agrees to cover or discount repairs even if Tesla is not responsible and requires customers to sign a “goodwill agreement” that requires nondisclosure of the incident.

Tesla noted the agreement did not mention NHTSA and “has nothing to do with trying to stop someone from communicating with NHTSA or the government about our cars.”

NHTSA said on Thursday it “learned of Tesla’s troublesome non-disclosure agreement last month. The agency immediately informed Tesla that any language implying that consumers should not contact the agency regarding safety concerns is unacceptable, and NHTSA expects Tesla to eliminate any such language.”