France’s transport minister said on Wednesday there was no suggestion at this stage that a fatal accident in Paris involving a Tesla (TSLA) Model 3 taxi was caused by a technical fault.
Leading Paris taxi company G7 has suspended the use of the 37 Model 3 cars in its fleet after an accident on Saturday involving one of its drivers in which one person was killed and 20 injured.
Three people are in serious condition, according to a person close to the investigation.
“There are no elements that would lead one to believe it was tied to a technical problem,” Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told RMC radio.
The minister said he had spoken with the chief executive of Tesla Europe who told him there had been no safety alerts about the Model 3.
Tesla has not responded to requests for comment. The automaker collects detailed data from the sensors and cameras on its vehicles and has used such data in the past to challenge claims that accidents were caused by malfunctioning technology.
G7 Deputy Chief Executive Yann Ricordel cited Tesla as saying on Monday that an initial inquiry had ruled out a technical fault.
Ricordel said the accident occurred while an off-duty taxi driver was taking his family to a restaurant. The driver tried to brake but the car accelerated instead, Ricordel said.
A police source told Reuters that the car, which had stopped at a red traffic light, suddenly sped forward, hitting and dragging with it a cyclist who later died.
The driver tried to stop the vehicle by steering into surrounding obstacles, including trash bins, causing further damage, the police source said, citing the driver’s own version of events, witnesses and video surveillance.
It was not clear whether the car was operating in autopilot mode. The driver tested negative in a alcohol test, the police source said.
A judicial source said that an investigation into involuntary homicide by the driver had been opened.
Video of the scene obtained by Reuters showed the wreckage of a black Tesla and debris strewn across the street. The vehicle’s left-hand side was crumpled, the front left wheel collapsed and the windscreen shattered.
The car appeared to have collided with a white van, which suffered front-end damage. Other footage circulating on social media showed members of the public tending to the wounded and shocked bystanders in the aftermath of the accident.