Tesla Recalls Over 475,000 Electric Vehicles

Tesla Recalls Over 475,000 Electric Vehicles
A Tesla logo is seen at the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Aly Song/Reuters)
Bryan Jung

Tesla announced on Dec. 30, that it had agreed to recall 134,951 Model S and Model X vehicles over the safety of its touchscreen displays, which could elevate the risk of a crash after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sought the recall last month.

The carmaker said in a separate notice to the auto safety regulator on Dec. 29 that it will recall 356,309 Model 3 vehicles made between 2017 and 2020, as the rear-view camera cable harnesses could be damaged from opening and closing the trunk, preventing the rearview camera image from displaying.

The two safety issues may increase the chances of an accident and Tesla said that it will inspect the recalled cars and make any needed repairs at no cost to owners.

In total, over 475,000 Teslas are facing a recall.

NHTSA declared on Dec 23, that Tesla owners should not be able to play video games on a touchscreen while their vehicles are moving.

The touchscreen feature, which is called “Passenger Play,” can act as a serious distraction for the driver, according to the agency.

Tesla voluntarily agreed to send a software update so the “Passenger Play” function would be disabled when the cars are in operation.

The announcement came a day after the agency released a Dec. 22 press statement saying that it would open an investigation into concerns about the touchscreen.

Tesla announced that the recall will begin March 30.

The NHTSA had sought a recall of 158,000 vehicles with the touchscreen issue, but Tesla said that today’s recall does not include certain vehicles with upgraded processors built after March 2018.

Other automakers such as Mercedes-Benz have issued numerous recalls for similar safety issues stemming from defective touchscreens.

Previously, the NHTSA had ordered an earlier recall on Jan. 27 regarding the touchscreens, after it concluded the 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles posed a safety issue.

The regulator said that the touchscreen also posed significant safety issues, including the loss of rearview or backup camera images, exterior turn-signal lighting, and windshield defogging and defrosting systems that “may decrease the driver’s visibility in inclement weather.”

Tesla promptly complied by recalling roughly 135,000 vehicles “in the interest of bringing administrative closure to the investigation and to ensure the best ownership experience for our customers,” said the company in a press release.

The automaker said that 88 percent of U.S. Tesla owners had already received online updates to some features that may be lost due to touchscreen display failures.

There had been complaints which about Tesla’s earlier policy requiring owners to pay to replace unit failures once warranties expire.

Tesla’s new policy will now replace defective parts at no cost and reimburse customers who had already paid for the repair of parts due to lifetime wear.

The auto regulator announced in August that it has opened a separate investigation into 765,000 vehicles over Tesla’s Autopilot system, after a series of collisions with parked emergency vehicles.

Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
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