A Tesla driver whose family survived their car plunging off a cliff in California has been arrested on suspicion of intentionally causing the crash, authorities said.

Dharmesh Arvind Patel, 41, was driving with his wife and two young children along a scenic but treacherous stretch of Highway 1 near San Francisco on Monday

when his car left the road and plummeted to the shoreline some 250 feet (75 meters) below. It was extremely rare for anyone to survive such a steep fall

Despite the precipitous drop and visible heavy damage sustained by the vehicle, all four passengers survived.

Emergency personnel rappelled down to the wreck, and helicopters were called in to help airlift the family safety.

The California Highway Patrol on Wednesday told AFP Patel had been arrested at Stanford Hospital, and would be transferred to a nearby county jail upon his release from treatment.

"CHP investigators worked throughout the night interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the scene," the agency said in a statement.