‘Locked up’: Tesla driver says car was charged but still died on highway

CHARLOTTE — James Hanna says his Tesla was charged with more than 60% battery capacity, so he never expected this.

“Going from work, going to pick up my son from school, I was on 277,” Hanna told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

“It just stopped … shut down completely.”

Hanna said the car “locked up.”

“Like I didn’t even have time to figure out what was happening before I was stopped in the middle of the interstate,” Hanna told Stoogenke.

He said he’s lucky that no one hit him.

“If anybody’s ever driven on 277, you know how cars usually go fast,” Hanna said. “This day just happened to be a slower day, so, fortunately, the car behind me had time to stop.”

Hanna says Tesla worked on his car and sent him a text message which seems to confirm his car did have a problem. The text message talks about “insufficient power being supplied to vehicle contactors, ultimately shutting down.”

Hanna says a major reason he bought a Tesla is the safety features. Now, he’s afraid to drive it. He says he’d sell it, but worries about other people too.

“I thought it was going to be safe for myself and my son,” Hanna said. “It has not been an easy situation for me. It’s definitely created a lot of stress. And it’s just the unknowing of when will this car do it again?”

Hanna says he reported it to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Stoogenke checked NHTSA records and found Hanna’s complaint, plus 12 more like his since June 2022.

He also came across news reports related to this topic. In 2022, a news station in Kansas City reported a Tesla lost power and stopped in the middle of the interstate. Other drivers couldn’t avoid the car, causing a three-vehicle crash, and the Tesla driver was killed.

Last year, ABC reported when a man in Phoenix was trapped inside his Tesla after it died in the extreme heat. He said he didn’t know how to escape and called his sister to rescue him.

Tesla keeps this list of recalls on its website. At last check, Monday, there wasn’t one for this issue.

NHTSA told Stoogenke it “urges all vehicle owners to familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s features and immediately recharge their 12V battery if they receive a low battery warning.”

One of the most important things for any Tesla owner to know is how to get out of it manually if the battery dies.

Stoogenke called Tesla about Hanna’s issue and spoke with a representative who told him to send an email. Stoogenke emailed the company three times since Dec. 11, including again on Friday. The company hasn’t responded.

(WATCH: Tesla camera catches tire thieves in action: ‘Look like they’re working for NASCAR’)