On Wednesday, Jan. 13, local time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ((NHTSA)) asked Tesla to recall some MODEL S and MODEL X models, totaling 158000 vehicles, due to a failure of the media control unit (MCU), which may cause the touch screen to not work, thus causing safety risks.
In November, the agency sent a formal letter to Tesla after upgrading its security investigation and made the unusual request. NHTSA said it had tentatively identified "car safety-related defects" in the Model S produced by Tesla in 2012-2018 and the Model X model produced in 2016-2018.
Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but must reply to NHTSA by Jan. 27. If the company does not agree to the recall, it must provide the above-mentioned institutions with a "full explanation of its decision".
It is understood that the agency rarely requires automakers to initiate recalls. However, if the regulator believes that the vehicle needs to be recalled, the car company will usually take the initiative to agree to the recall. NHTSA said it made the recall decision after considering "Tesla's technical briefing statement and evaluating Tesla's claim".
NHTSA added: "when we reviewed the data, Tesla confirmed that due to the limited storage capacity of memory devices, all devices will inevitably fail."
The agency said the touch screen failure caused serious safety problems, including the loss of rearview mirror / reversing camera images. NHTSA pointed out that nine automakers had previously recalled because of similar problems, and the agency also sent Tesla a detailed list of previously recalled vehicles.
Specifically, NHTSA said that Tesla's vehicles with faulty touch screens may affect the Autopilot driving assistance system and turn signal functions, as the sound timing, driver sensing and alarms related to these vehicles may also fail.
The agency added that the failure of alarms related to systems such as Autopilot "increases the risk of a car accident because the driver may not be aware that the system has malfunctioned".
In addition, the touch screen failure will also prevent drivers from using the windshield defog and defrosting system, "which may reduce the driver's visibility in bad weather and increase the risk of accidents."
NHTSA pointed out, "Tesla has released several OTA (aerial Wireless upgrade) updates in an attempt to alleviate some problems." But we believe that these updates are not enough both in procedure and in substance. In this case, the agency noted that automakers are required by law to initiate recalls to remedy safety-related defects.
In November, NHTSA said it had reviewed 12523 claims and complaints about the issue, accounting for about 8 per cent of the total number of vehicles investigated. Many complaints allege that Tesla asked car owners to pay for replacement equipment after the warranty period expired.