The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pulled Tesla up on claims regarding the safety of its Model 3 sedan.
NHTSA Chief Counsel Jonathan Morrison sent Tesla CEO Elon Musk a cease-and-desist letter in October last year to say it had become aware of “misleading statements” made by the company about the vehicle’s safety rating.
The agency’s main contention was with Tesla’s claim in a blog post that month that NHTSA tests showed the Model 3 has “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.”
The NHTSA said in the letter, which was posted on the legal transparency website PlainSite, that it had also referred the matter to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
It said it was “not the first time” Tesla had disregarded NHTSA guidelines “in a manner that may lead to consumer confusion and give Tesla an unfair market advantage.”
According to the documents posted on PlainSite, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the NHTSA also issued subpoenas to Tesla ordering it to produce information on several crashes.
The news was first reported by Bloomberg. Tesla, the NHTSA and the FTC were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
The NHTSA did publicly dispute Tesla’s claims about car safety after the blog post in question was published. The agency at the time said that there was no “safest” ranking within its five-star ranking system for crash tests.
Tesla said at the time that it carried out its safety assessment using publicly available data on crash scores.