Mercedes Recalls Millions Of Cars Over Software Bug

German car maker Mercedes-Benz is at the centre of a growing recall over a software glitch with some of its vehicles.

The issue concerns the eCall feature, which alerts the emergency services of an accident and replays a vehicles location to them.

The problem impacts 1,292,258 cars in the United States, but the car maker is preparing to begin recalls in other global markets as well.

Location fault

Earlier this month, Tesla announced it was recalling 135,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over safety issues.

That recall centred around faulty touchscreen displays, which control nearly all of the cabin functions in a Tesla.

But the Mercedes recall looks on the surface to include a far higher number of cars.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was quoted by the BBC as saying that Mercedes “determined that a safety risk cannot be ruled out.”

Although the problem is software-related, which can usually be fixed wirelessly using the car’s mobile data connection, there is a chance it has to done physically which will mean customers bringing in their car to an authorised dealer for the update to be downloaded.

The update will rectify the fault which sees the wrong location being sent to emergency services.

The feature is designed to operate if the car detects it has been involved in an accident, and the driver is not responding. The car will automatically alert the emergency services, and include locate data.

Mercedes said the problem centres around the software connected to the communications module used by the emergency call system.

“In rare cases, this could mean that in the event of an accident-related temporary drop in a vehicle’s voltage, the communication module might not communicate the correct current position when an emergency call is made/triggered,” a spokesperson for the car-maker said.

“All other functions of the automatic and manual emergency call function remain fully operational,” the spokesperson added.

Mercedes apparently said that it had discovered the fault itself due to its safety monitoring programme, which it said was a “top priority” for the company.

Global recall

Although the recall is initially only for the United States, Mercedes admitted other countries will also be subject to the recall.

“This software update will also be implemented in other countries and we are in close contact with the local authorities,” Mercedes-Benz in the UK told the BBC.

However the car maker said was not providing any further details until an official announcement of the fix.

The recall in the US for 1,292,258 affected vehicles covers 200 models built between 2016 and 2021.

This includes the A-Class, C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class, as well as many other models.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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