A Canadian Tesla owner accidentally climbed into the wrong car and his app allowed him to drive away in the lookalike vehicle, the motorist said Tuesday.
Rajesh Randev, 51, used his app to get inside his 2021 Tesla Model 3 — or so he thought — about 2:30 p.m. March 7 and went to pick up his two children from school, the immigration consultant from Vancouver said.
Minutes into the journey, Randev was alarmed to see a crack in the windshield and discover his phone-charging cable was missing.
“I called my wife, ‘What happened to the windshield?’ ” Randev said. “Then it was, ‘Where did my cable go?’ ”
Randev ignored multiple phone calls from someone identified as “Mahmood” because he didn’t know anyone by that name. Then the strange experience became even more confusing when Randev received a text message: “Do you drive a Tesla?”
“I thought maybe some client saw me or maybe some old friend or whatever maybe someone recognized me (driving by) and texted me?” Randev said.
Randev didn’t put it all together until the texter spelled it out: “I think you (are) driving the wrong car.”
Randev said he pulled over into an alley, saw that the tire rims were not off his car and realized that he had mistaken his own white Model 3 for the white Model 3 owned by the man on the other line.
Fortunately, that other Tesla owner, who is an Uber driver, spotted a prescription bottle in with a cellphone number in the car, allowing them to connect.
“I was totally surprised,” Randev said. “I mean how was this possible? How was I able to gain access and drive?”
Randev picked up his children and returned to the scene of the non-crime, where all parties shared a laugh and some concerns.
“They (the children) were laughing together. I mean my kids are young people so they love computers and stuff like that and they were laughing,” Randev said.
“But then on the other side, they were kind of scared too, you know, like how was this possible? ”
The Vancouver snafu marks the latest oddity involving the high-end car line that includes elements of driverless technology.
- A Tesla driver was killed and a passenger was critically injured Feb. 18 when the car plowed into a fire truck parked on a Northern California freeway to shield a crew clearing another accident, authorities said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the driver may have been intoxicated or whether the Tesla Model S was operating with automation or driving assistance features.
- Limousine driver Kevin George Aziz Riad was driving his Tesla Model S on autopilot in California in late 2019 when he ran a red and smashed into a Honda Civic, killing Gilberto Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, officials said. The driver has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and the trial in Compton is pending.
- Regulators disclosed this month that they’ve opened an investigation into Tesla’s Model Y SUV after receiving complaints that the steering wheels can come off while being driven.
A rep for Tesla’s Investor Relations department could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.
Randev said he’s been trying to reach Tesla since the incident. And other than one email from a local Tesla dealer asking for his phone number, there’s been no response, he said.
Polly DeFrank contributed.