Last week, it was reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had launched a “preliminary investigation” into an accident involving a Tesla Model S that resulted in the death of Joshua Brown.
The vehicle was traveling in autopilot mode at the time of the crash, which took place in Florida on May 7. Tesla waited nine days before informing the NHTSA, but the incident didn’t become public knowledge until news of the agency’s investigation surfaced.
On Monday, Fortune published an article noting that Tesla and Elon Musk sold $2 billion worth of Tesla stock just 11 days after the accident, all without releasing any information about the crash. The publication argues that, as the autopilot was involved, the incident was “material” enough to warrant informing shareholders.
“To put things baldly, Tesla and Musk did not disclose the very material fact that a man had died while using an auto-pilot technology that Tesla had marketed vigorously as safe and important to its customers,” wrote Carol J. Loomis.
Musk hit back at the claims, sending an email to Loomis that stated: “Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.” The CEO went on to claim that Tesla’s autopilot feature could save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide if it were available to everyone.
“Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available.”
Never one to shy away from letting his feelings known, Musk responded to a Tweet from Fortune editor Alan Murray.
@alansmurray If you care about auto deaths as material to stock prices, why no articles about 1M+/year deaths from other auto companies?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 5, 2016
When asked why the company didn’t disclose the incident ahead of the share sale, Tesla gave the following statement to Reuters.
Tesla does not find it necessary, nor does any automaker, to share the details of every accident that occur in a Tesla vehicle. More than a million people die globally every year in car accidents, but automakers do not disclose each of these accidents to investors, let alone before those investigations are complete and without regard to what the results of those investigations end up being.
Musk also pointed out that, while tragic, the death is the first known fatality to occur while the autopilot was engaged, even though drivers have covered a total of 130 million miles while using the feature.