Is Tesla hiding a potential safety problem or is the company being attacked for financial or political reasons? Over the last week Tesla has found itself engaged in a battle of words with car blogger Ed Niedermeyer who has claimed that the company has been seeking to silence Model S owners who have been experiencing suspension problems with their cars.
The source of the claim was a forum post claiming that the owner of a faulty 2013 Model S had been bribed to keep quiet over a potential detect by means of a goodwill payment and agreement that prevented discussion of the problem.
This doesn't seem to be consistent with the way that Tesla operates. The cars have proven to be remarkably robust with solid design and execution. The company has a particularly fragile reputation to protect as its role as a key electric vehicle pioneer makes it susceptible to public opinion swings.
Whilst a recall relating to a suspension part would barely move the needle (especially given how many significant major recalls are completed by other car makers every year) the exposure of a cover-up would be catastrophic. It would call into question the inherent safety of all EVs and the very future of Tesla itself.
The risk reward profile is so out of balance that I can't believe any company would chance it, US corporate culture notwithstanding.
So what of the 'gagging' agreement? Looks like nothing more than Tesla says it is, an agreement to prevent the company's gesture being used against it in the future.
In the end the real story appears to be about a high-mileage EV having a component failure for which Tesla has made a reasonably generous part-payment offer.
Given the blogger's past history with Tesla this can probably be dismissed.