Tesla will recall over two million cars from the American market. That’s almost all Teslas in the United States.
Why is Tesla recalling the vehicles?
Billionaire Elon Musk’s automaker is recalling the vehicles over Autopilot safety concerns. The Autosteer driver monitoring system is at the core of the problem, which is ripe for driver misuse. After over two years of debate, Tesla issued the recall.
But the “recall” will only happen through a software update. While this will certainly make the entire ordeal faster and cheaper, critics are skeptical of how effective the fix will be. First among their concerns is the lack of hardware touch-ups.
For one, Tesla doesn’t plan to upgrade the cameras inside their older models. Those are meant to monitor the drivers while they are at the wheels. They ensure that whoever is inside pays attention to the road, even when Autopilot is on. But, as it turns out, even cars with internal cameras aren’t up to the task.
According to critics, inadequate monitoring hardware is one of the larger issues that makes Tesla’s Autopilot system unsafe. Philip Koopman, a CMU professor specialising in autonomous vehicle safety, specifically calls out the lack of night vision cameras. This, he says, undermines the efforts of the entire recall:
“[The Telsa recall] is not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at.”
Which Teslas are being recalled over Autopilot safety concerns?
Only the Teslas equipped with Autosteer mode will be affected by the recall. Those include the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y.
The recall will be free and won’t require more than a software update.
“If your Tesla is included in a recall, service to address the issue will be provided for free regardless of age or mileage,” Tesla writes in a press release about the recall. You can check if your car is affected by clicking here.
Tesla and the NHTSA
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for road safety in the country. Since 2016, the organization has opened more than 36 investigations into Tesla crashes where it was suspected that driver systems like the Autopilot were used.
The NHTSA has opened new investigations following last year’s wave of Tesla Autopilot crashes.
In June 2023, a Washington Post investigation put the number of Tesla autopilot crashes at 736, with 17 fatalities. In their piece covering the new recall, The Guardian writes that 23 deaths have been reported to date.
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Following a two-year-long negotiation with the Transportation Safety Association, Tesla has finally issued the recall. Yet, some experts fear that Tesla’s actions might not be enough.
NHTSA safety advisor Missy Cummings argues that, in an urge to begin the recall, the company might have found a compromise with regulatory organs. In Cummings’s words:
“This has all the earmarks of a compromise to get the remedy out and avoid another year of negotiation between NHTSA and Tesla. The remedy will likely not be as robust as NHTSA would like to see.”
Tesla recall history
This isn’t the first time Tesla has had to organize a massive recall. In May, China’s market regulators forced the company to recall nearly all its vehicles sold there.
The issue, while different from Tesla’s troubles in the US, was also about road safety. Another smaller US-based recall happened in October this year, sparked by the cars’ failure to detect low brake fluid.
Things might seem dire for Tesla. Yet the company broke sales records for electric vehicles this same year. Tesla’s delivery is up by 10% from last quarter and over 80% from last year’s final quarter.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Tesla logo. Featured Photo Credit: Michael Förtsch.