Tesla owners react to preliminary NTSB fatal crash findings

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Tesla owners were eating up details of the preliminary findings of the fatal crash as they were charging their vehicles at a station in Mountain View, just a couple of miles from where the fatal crash happened at Highways 101 and 85 in March. (KGO-TV)

Tesla owners were eating up details of the preliminary findings of the fatal crash as they were charging their vehicles at a station in Mountain View, just a couple of miles from where the fatal crash happened at Highways 101 & 85 in March.

TIMELINE: ABC7 investigates deadly Tesla crash on Hwy 101 in Mountain View

Leon Ducharme of Mountain View said he hasn't experienced sudden acceleration, but in Autopilot, his 23-day old car would start to change lanes but suddenly jerk back. He's especially cautious at on and off ramps.

"I normally disengage Autopilot if I'm going to take an exit because it'll speed up," said Ducharme. "It does speed up?" asked a reporter. Ducharme responded, "To the speed that you set it to, so I put my brakes on and take over control."

Silicon Valley residents know about beta testing. New software is released routinely to have real users identify bugs. In the case of autopilot in cars, though, lives are at stake. Is that acceptable?

RELATED: Was Mountain View Tesla crash a failure of Autopilot, automatic braking systems?

"It's acceptable to me 'cause like I said you need to use it at the right time and know what it cannot do," said Ducharme.

Marketing professor Charles Byers at Santa Clara University says early adopters tend to be more forgiving of glitches, but Tesla's challenge is to make the risk tolerable to individual segments it serves.

"Of course you have your investors, and they have one set of expectations they're looking for," said Byers.

"You have the early adopters, and that's another set of expectations. There's the current customers, and that's another set of expectations."

EXCLUSIVE: Victim who died in Tesla crash had complained about Autopilot

And there are people still deciding whether to buy a Tesla and trust its Autopilot technology.

Sunnyvale resident Janet LaRochelle was caught in the backup of the fatal Tesla crash on Highway 101.

"Is Tesla's reputation going to be hurt by this?" asked this reporter. "Could be. I mean I don't know," she said. "I'll bet every car manufacturer is watching what's going on really, really closely."

So will safety experts.

Full coverage on the Tesla crash by ABC7 News and the I-Team here.

Click here for the latest stories by Dan Noyes and the I-Team and click here for more stories and videos related to Tesla.
Related Topics:
automotiveteslaelon muskinvestigationNTSBelectricelectric vehiclescarcar crashcar accidentMountain View
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