Manufacturer defends the timing of its disclosure of the crash to safety regulators.

Automaker Tesla has admitted it did not inform safety regulators of a fatal crash involving a Model S running in Autopilot mode until nine days after the incident.

According to Tesla, it learned of the crash shortly after it occurred on May 7 but waited until May 16 to inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA announced its investigation on June 30.

The crash occurred when the Autopilot system's senors failed to 'see' a tractor trailer turning across a highway in front of the car. Neither the car nor the driver applied the brakes and it passed under the trailer, shearing the roof off. The driver, 40-year old Joshua Brown, died at the scene as a result of the injuries he sustained.

After it had informed the NHTSA, but before the investigations had been announced, Tesla made a stock offering that raised nearly $1.5 billion. It also launched its bid to take over SolarCity around that period, as well.

Tesla has defended the timing of its disclosure of the crash. A statement from Tesla said: "Tesla does find it necessary, nor does an automaker, to share the details of every accident that occurs in a Tesla vehicle. More than a million die globally every year in car accidents, but automakers do not disclose each of these accidents to investors, let alone before those investigations are complete and without regard to what the results of those investigations end up being."

Tesla's Autopilot system is currently in a beta public testing phase. Before engaging it, drivers are informed that they must remain in control of the vehicle at all times.

Source: Automotive News, Photo: Bobby Vankavelaar

Gallery: Tesla Autopilot fatal accident deconstruction