Tesla CEO Elon Musk Copyright Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla Probes Dutch Fatal Crash, Says Auto-pilot Not On

Tesla stressed that the driver, who was killed in Wednesday's crash near the eastern Dutch town of Baarn, was not driving on auto-pilot.

Electric car firm Tesla Motors (IW 500/227) said Thursday it was investigating a fatal crash in The Netherlands when a Model S sedan ploughed at high-speed into a tree.

But the company stressed the driver, who was killed in Wednesday's crash near the eastern Dutch town of Baarn, was not driving on auto-pilot.

"We can confirm at this time, based on the car's logs that the auto-pilot, had not been activated at any point," Tesla Netherlands said in a Dutch statement sent to AFP.

It added the log also showed "the car was driving at 155 kilometers (96 miles) per hour" which was consistent with the heavy damage to the vehicle.

It is the second fatal crash involving a Tesla electric car, after a driver was killed in May in Florida while driving on auto-pilot.

Dutch media reported the man killed on Wednesday was 53, from the town of Hilversum. The Dutch news agency ANP said it took fire officers several hours to recover his body as they feared being electrocuted.

"Our thoughts go out to the family," Tesla said, adding "we are working with the authorities to establish the full facts surrounding the accident."

Tesla, founded by pioneer Elon Musk, has gained high marks for seeking to revolutionize the electric car market, initially with high-end luxury vehicles but more recently bringing prices down nearer to a more mainstream market.

The Model S sedan is marketed in the United States at prices starting at $70,000 (62,000 euros).

Last month the company unveiled a new speedier version, the Model S P100D, capable of travelling more than 482 kilometers (300 miles) before it needs to be recharged, with starting prices of around $135,000.

Tesla is also probing an incident in France in August when a Model S sedan caught fire during a test drive in the southwestern town of Bayonne.

U.S. federal regulators also recorded two fires involving the Model S, one each in the US states of Washington and Tennessee in 2013.

In both cases, the cars involved hit debris on the road that pierced the chassis and caused a battery fire.

Tesla has cautioned that the autopilot system, introduced last year, is not a fully autonomous system and drivers should be at the wheel and in control.

The system allows the vehicle to automatically change lanes, manage speed and brake to avoid a collision. The system may be overridden by the driver.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

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