Tesla asked to recall 158,000 vehicles over safety concerns in the US.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday asked Tesla to recall 1.58,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over media control unit (MCU) failures that could present safety risks by causing them to touch screens do not work.
The auto safety agency made the unusual request in a formal letter to Tesla after updating a security probe in November, saying it had tentatively concluded 2012-2018 Models and 2016-2018 Model X the vehicles “contain a defect related to motor vehicle safety”.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment but must respond to NHTSA by January 27. If you do not agree, you must provide the agency with “a full explanation of its decision.”
It is unusual for the agency to formally require a withdrawal. Automakers often voluntarily agree to a recall if regulators seek it out in discussions.
The agency said it sought the recall after considering “Tesla’s submission of technical information … and evaluating Tesla’s claims.”
NHTSA added that “during our review of the data, Tesla provided confirmation that all drives will inevitably fail given the finite storage capacity of the memory device.”
The NHTSA said other automakers have issued numerous recalls for similar safety concerns, the agency told Tesla, including a detailed list of past callbacks.
The agency said touchscreen failures pose significant safety concerns, including loss of images from the rearview/backup camera. He pointed to nine previous recalls by other automakers for similar problems.
Tesla vehicles that lose the use of the touch screen may have the driver assistance autopilot system and turn signal functionality affected due to the possible loss of audible chimes, driver detection and alerts associated with these features of the vehicle, NHTSA said. He added that the loss of alerts tied to systems like Autopilot “increases the risk of an accident occurring because drivers may not be aware of system failures.”
Touchscreen failures prevent drivers from using the windshield defroster and defroster systems that “can reduce the driver’s visibility in bad weather, increasing the risk of a crash.”
The NHTSA noted that “Tesla has implemented several wireless updates in an attempt to mitigate some of the problems … but tentatively believes that these updates are substantive and procedurally insufficient.” He noted that under the law, “vehicle manufacturers must conduct recalls to remedy safety-related defects.”
The NHTSA said in November that it reviewed 12,523 complaints and complaints about the problem, affecting approximately 8 percent of the vehicles under investigation.
Many complaints say that Tesla requires owners to pay to replace the unit after warranties expire.