“We have been deeply saddened by this accident, and we have offered our full cooperation to authorities as we work to establish the facts of the incident,” Tesla said in an emailed statement.
Tesla shares fell 8.2 percent to close the day at $279.18.
The investigation is the second this year involving Tesla by the NTSB, which opens only a handful of highway cases each year. The agency is also examining a Jan. 22 accident in Los Angeles in which a Tesla Model S rammed into the rear of a fire truck parked on a freeway. In that case, the driver told authorities on the scene it was operating under Autopilot.
Last September, the NTSB concluded that Tesla’s Autopilot was a contributing factor in a 2016 fatal crash in Florida. The driver of that car had been using the car’s automatic steering function for a prolonged period and didn’t stop when a semi-truck made a left turn in front of him.
Stock and debt dropping
Meanwhile, Tesla’s stock and bonds are declining as analysts cast doubt on the electric-car maker reaching its production targets for the all-important Model 3 sedan.
Model 3 deliveries have fallen short of CEO Elon Musk’s lofty goals since the company started building it in July. Investors may be starting to lose patience at an inopportune time.
“There’s just so much bad news right now,” John Thompson, the chief executive officer of Vilas Capital Management LLC, which is shorting Tesla shares, said by phone. “You’ve got the NTSB investigating a new crash, Nvidia suspending autonomous testing, and Tesla can’t make the Model 3. When the stock goes lower like this, it gets harder to raise capital. It’s going to be harder for them to raise money.”
Bloomberg’s Model 3 tracker estimates the company may be making about 975 of the cars a week, well short of the target to build at a 2,500-unit rate by the end of this quarter.
An analyst at Citigroup Inc. wrote Tuesday that Tesla may be struggling to convert car shoppers into Model 3 buyers, while a Robert W. Baird & Co. said Monday the company might not achieve its weekly production goal by the end of March.
“This is the most negative I’ve seen sentiment in a while,” Ben Kallo, the Baird analyst, said Tuesday. “It’s really about the Model 3 production and ramp up, and the shorts are piling in. Everything else, including the Nvidia announcement--is just piling on.”
Tesla is expected to report first-quarter production and deliveries next week.