- A San Francisco man said he’ll keep riding in the back seat of his Tesla after getting arrested for it, KTVU reports.
- Param Sharma said he is “very rich” and will keep buying Teslas as his cars are impounded.
- Tesla sells a feature called Full Self-Driving Capability, but it doesn’t make cars autonomous.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A San Francisco man who was arrested for riding in the back seat of his Tesla as it drove on the highway says he’ll keep pulling the stunt after being released from jail – and he’ll keep buying more cars as they get impounded.
After getting booked on two counts of reckless driving, Param Sharma arrived for a Wednesday interview with Bay Area news station KTVU riding in the back seat of a Tesla again. But it wasn’t the same car that California Highway Patrol pulled him over in.
The day after being released from jail on Tuesday, he told the channel, Sharma bought a new Tesla Model 3 because his other was impounded. Also, he is “very rich,” he told KTVU.
“I have unlimited money to blow on Teslas. If you take away my Tesla, I will get another Tesla. That’s how it works,” Sharma said.
The California Highway Patrol said Tuesday it had arrested Sharma for reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer. The arrest came after videos circulated online of Sharma riding down the highway in the back seat. He had been cited for the same offense in April, police said.
The incident is just the latest to spark scrutiny around how some Tesla drivers abuse the company’s driver-assistance features. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened investigations into more than two dozen Tesla crashes, including a fatal incident in April that police said occurred with nobody in the driver’s seat.
Sharma told KTVU he bought a Tesla with the Full Self-Driving package, but seemed overly confident in the feature’s abilities. The $10,000 advanced driver-assistance system – a step up from the standard Autopilot feature – enables a car to automatically change lanes, navigate highway on-ramps and exits, and recognize stop signs and traffic lights.
But it does not make Teslas autonomous, and the company says drivers need to pay full attention when using it.
“It’s like a living room back here. I’m relaxing in luxury while Elon Musk chauffeurs me,” he told KTVU.
Even in its most advanced iteration, the Full Self-Driving system has major flaws. Tesla tells the software’s beta testers to be vigilant, as the feature may “do the wrong thing at the worst time.” In tests, Consumer Reports said Full Self Driving performed inconsistently and sometimes disengaged without warning.
Still, Sharma said he has no plans to stop riding in the back seat of his car, despite the clear dangers the stunt poses to pedestrians and other drivers.
“I feel like by mid-2022 the backseat thing will be normal. And I think right now people are just taking it out of proportion,” he said.