One Setback from Being a Bond Villain

You may recall that roughly a month ago, Tesla was kicked off the NTSB investigation of its fatal “autopilot” crash for issuing self serving pres releases, which the NTSB frowns upon.

Well, it can now be revealed that when the NTSB called Elon Musk, he hung up on them.

I am a firm believer that a leader needs to be receptive to criticism and differences of opinion.

William Durant, founder of General Motors, famously would defer major decisions if there was no opposition, on the theory that the lack of dissent meant that there had not been enough consideration of the downside.

Elon Musk clearly has some problems:

On April 11, Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, called Tesla CEO Elon Musk to tell him that the federal agency was taking the unusual step of removing the company from its investigation into a fatal March 2018 Tesla X crash in California.

Now, as Bloomberg reports, Sumwalt says that Musk abruptly ended the call, according to remarks that the safety official gave before the Society of Air Safety Investigators’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter dinner on Thursday.

“Best I remember, he hung up on us,” Sumwalt said.

In a short email sent to Ars, Christopher T. O’Neil, the NTSB’s chief of media relations, confirmed Bloomberg‘s description of the call.

“The account of the Chairman’s remarks is accurate,” O’Neil wrote.


On April 12, the NTSB formally removed Tesla as a party to the investigation into the crash.

“The NTSB took this action because Tesla violated the party agreement by releasing investigative information before it was vetted and confirmed by the NTSB,” the agency wrote. “Such releases of incomplete information often lead to speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of a crash, which does a disservice to the investigative process and the traveling public.”

For its part, Tesla said, in fact, that it withdrew before being booted out of the investigation.

A spokesperson even said that the NTSB was “more concerned with press headlines than actually promoting safety.”

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Die

I am not explicitly stating that Elon Musk has a screw loose, but I am saying that we should be very concerned if he buys a white Persian cat.

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