New NHTSA Probe Won’t Mean ‘Game Over’ for Tesla Stock in 2022

After spending most of the 2021 holiday season dipping into the red, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is finally regaining the market momentum that carried it through most of the year. The electric vehicle (EV) innovator recently watched CEO Elon Musk offload shares, casting doubt over the future of the company. However, Tesla stock seems to be back on track, just in time to deliver promising returns to its investors. Today brought an announcement that sounded ominous, but so far it hasn’t pushed share prices down.

Tesla (TSLA) badge on steering wheel of car
Source: Christopher Lyzcen /

Tesla Stock’s Latest Driver

What was the announcement? Today it was reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into a unique feature of Tesla vehicles — the ability of drivers to play video games on their dashboard touch screens. When headlines report a regulatory probe, the first instinct of many investors is to panic. Since the news broke, though, Tesla stock has only been rising. As of this writing, it is up almost 5% and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

This development truly feels unique to Tesla, the company that set the stage for EV innovations. The function in question is titled Passenger Play. As its title implies, it was originally implemented for the entertainment of passengers. Additionally, it has been included in all the Tesla models. It certainly makes sense that road safety regulators would be concerned with gameplay function being extended to a car’s driver, particularly while the car is in motion. Let’s take a look at this news in more context, though.

The Road Ahead

Why hasn’t this been bad news for Tesla stock? The way it looks from here, investors are evaluating this news from a macro perspective and coming to the quick conclusion that it isn’t all bad.

Notably, the NHTSA probe was only prompted by concerns, not by any actual incidents on the road. Indeed, The Guardian reports that the documents released by the agency “do not list any crashes or injuries caused by the problem.” While the initial complaint was filed by a Tesla owner who was shocked by his ability to play Solitaire while his car was moving, nothing bad actually happened to him or anyone else.

We all know that a future with self-driving cars is coming. While it’s unlikely to be here very soon, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Tesla has made significant progress in exactly that area. Earlier this week, a woman delivered a baby in her Model 3 Tesla while her car’s autopilot feature enabled her husband to assist her. I don’t have kids, but I’d wager that experience was more distracting than playing a video game. Tesla’s hands-off driving technology clearly works. More than that, it’s clear that it will help users in a new age of driving tech. Ultimately, we’re headed toward a self-driven world that so far we’ve only been able to see on the movie screen.

The Bottom Line

While many feel uncomfortable with vehicles that allow drivers to take their eyes off the road, such a development doesn’t have to be all bad. Bluetooth technology has allowed drivers to make calls on the road with very minimal use of their hands, thereby ensuring a safer experience for everyone. Self-driving technology can provide many similar benefits.

This isn’t to suggest that we should be encouraging gameplay while driving. However, we should acknowledge that this development is likely an indicator of things to come. And it doesn’t have to be bad. Tesla stock isn’t going down because investors are casting their eyes on the road ahead.

On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

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