US Auto Regulator Discusses ‘Safety Concerns’ With Tesla

Tesla's Model S. Image credit: Tesla

US and Canadian regulators looking into possible safety issues with Tesla Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles over ‘failing’ heating systems

The US auto safety regulator has said it is discussing “potential safety concerns” with Tesla after vehicle owners complained heat pumps were failing in extreme cold temperatures.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it “s aware of the issue and is continuing to gather information, discuss the issue with Tesla and evaluate potential safety concerns”.

Its remarks came after the Canadian regulator Transport Canada said last week it was concerned malfunctioning heating and air-conditioning systems “may affect windshield defogging/defrosting and therefore driver visibility”.

The Canadian regulator said it was opening an investigation into heating and air-conditioning systems in Model 3 and Model Y vehicles following 16 consumer complaints about their performance in cold weather.

Tesla Model Y. Image credit: Tesla
Tesla’s Model Y. Image credit: Tesla

Safety probe

“A company is required to notify Transport Canada and all current owners when they become aware of a defect that could affect the safety of a person…. These notices are commonly referred to as ‘safety recalls,’” the regulator said.

It added it had informed Tesla of the probe.

Vehicle owners complained after heat pumps failed in extreme cold temperatures, reported news source Drive Tesla Canada.

The report said the problems occurred even after Tesla in early 2021 replaced faulty sensors in heat pumps in some 2020-21 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to address the issue.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2020 Tesla chief executive Elon Musk tweeted, “Model Y heat pump is some of the best engineering I’ve seen in a while”.

Tesla’s Cybertruck. Image credit: Tesla

Cybertruck delay

At the time Tesla had just begun deliveries of the Model Y SUV.

Last Thursday the electric carmaker’s share price dropped 6.7 percent after Reuters reported the company had pushed back production of the Cybertruck from late 2022 into the first quarter of next year, citing an unnamed source.

The delay is due to Tesla changing features and functions of the truck as competition in the electric truck market intensifies.

Rivian began delivering its R1T electric truck in September, and Ford is planning to begin production of its already-popular F-150 Lightning this spring, after receiving 200,000 pre-orders as of December 2021.

Ford said earlier this month it would nearly double annual production capacity for the vehicle to 150,000 vehicles ahead of the market launch.

The company’s market value rose over $100 billion (£73bn) for the first time last Thursday, on the same day that both Rivian and Tesla saw their shares slide.