Tesla denies "autopilot feature" the cause of fatal crash in Holland

The incident occurred on Wednesday

Tesla Motors has insisted a 53-year-old man who died when his electric car crashed into a tree in the Netherlands was not operating the controversial autopilot mode.

The driver was killed on Wednesday when his Model S sedan crashed into a tree and set on fire in the Dutch town of Baarn.

Police are investigating the cause of the accident, which occurred 25 miles southeast of Amsterdam, but Tesla has said the motorist was going more than 96mph at the time of the crash. 

The motor firm said the car's logs showed that autopilot was not engaged at any point in the man's journey. Tesla, which sent representatives to the crash scene, said the logged speed of 96mph was consistent with the damage sustained from hitting the tree.

The California-based company said: "We are working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation."

A fire department spokesman revealed the man's body was not removed from the car for more than five hours over fears that firefighters might be electrocuted.

Ronald Boer said that since responders were certain the victim had died immediately, it did not make sense for rescue workers to risk electrocution.

Mr Boer said: "We know a lot about electric cars, but there are always going to be cases where something unexpected happens. There are going to be educational moments."

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the car's battery had broken and partly caught on fire. A fatal crash of a Tesla Model S in Florida in May put the firm's autopilot system in the spotlight and knocked the company's shares.

In that case the car was engaged in autopilot mode, which uses cameras, computers and radars to detect objects and stop if there is a danger of a collision.

Tesla says the feature is a driver-assist system and the driver must be ready to take control at any time.