US orders Tesla to recall 158000 cars over safety defects

Joanna Estrada
January 14, 2021

Internal documents sent to NHTSA by Tesla revealed a touchscreen failure rate of 14.2% to 17.3% for examples of the Model S built between the 2012 and the 2015 model years, and of 1.9% to 4.1% for cars built between 2016 and 2018.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday sent a letter to Tesla saying it has tentatively determined that the screens are defective and pose a safety risk because they can cause backup cameras to go dark and defrosters to malfunction. Experts say the letter means that Tesla has resisted doing a recall that NHTSA feels is necessary.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment but it must respond to NHTSA by January 27.

The request could become a major headache for the company, as 159,000 vehicles represent almost one-third of all cars delivered by the manufacturer in 2020.

This is Money has contacted Tesla UK to understand if a recall is likely for owners of impacted cars in Britain. Tesla, for its part, has not issued a comment about the issue to date.

And when capacity is reached, the MCU will fail.

USA regulators asked Tesla to recall 158 000 cars in the United States because of a safety-related defect. The agency's formal investigation, which was started last June, is still underway despite the recent recall request.

The letter seeks a request from Tesla by January 27th. NHTSA says the screens would fail in five to six years, which isn't sufficient for safety-critical features. "If this image is not available, the risk of crash increases potentially causing injury or death".

Included in it were complaints Tesla required owners to pay to replace the units once warranties expired.

The failure rate "in this investigation is significantly greater than the failure rate for vehicles involved in prior recalls involving similar behavior", the statement read.

It also points out that it "has an adverse impact on the Autopilot advanced driver assistance system, as well as turn signal functionality due to the possible loss of audible chimes, driver sensing, and alerts associated with these vehicle functions".

"NHTSA notes that Tesla has implemented several over-the-air updates in an attempt to mitigate some of the issues described in this letter, but tentatively believes these updates are procedurally and substantively insufficient", the agency said, calling for a full recall in accordance with requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

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You see, chief executive officer Elon Musk once bragged about the trendsetting nature of these touchscreens by sourcing them from computer suppliers instead of automotive OEMs. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence. We do not write articles to promote products.

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