American car safety regulators have finally got Elon Musk’s Tesla firm to recall nearly 135,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over safety issues.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had officially asked Tesla back on 13 January to conduct the recall, and it is understood that owners are now receiving recall emails.
The recall centres around faulty touchscreen displays, which on the surface may not sound like a safety issue at all. But in a Tesla, the touchscreen display controls nearly all of the vehicle’s functionality, from adjusting heating or cooling, through to folding the wing mirrors.
And the NHTSA is clear there is a possible safety issue here concerning incidents of media control unit failures, that has resulted in the loss of rearview camera and other safety-related vehicle functions.
The loss of the touchscreen can also impact windshield defogging and defrosting systems.
Affected vehicles are Tesla Model S (2012 to 2018) and Tesla Model X (2016 to 2018).
It is reported that Tesla is recalling a total of 134,951 Model S and Model X vehicles.
“Certain of these Model S and X vehicles were equipped with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device,” said the NHTSA. “Part of this 8GB storage capacity is used each time the vehicle is started. The eMMC NAND cell hardware fails when the storage capacity is reached, resulting in failure of the MCU.”
Besides the above mentioned issues, the touchscreen failure “also has an adverse impact on the Autopilot advanced driver assistance system, as well as turn signal functionality due to the possible loss of audible chimes, driver sensing, and alerts associated with these vehicle functions.”
The email from Tesla, sent to affected customers, acknowledges the issues and states that it has “voluntarily” decided to recall the affected models, the BBC reported.
“There is no need at this time to contact us as we will notify you when the parts become available,” the email reportedly states.
“We kindly ask that you do not schedule a service appointment unless you receive a vehicle alert signalling memory storage device degradation or are actively experiencing a persistent blank centre display that does not recover after restarting the touchscreen,” it reportedly said.
The electric car maker also offered to reimburse drivers who had already paid for repairs.
Tesla is the most valuable car maker in the world, and is valued at a staggering $819 billion (as of Tuesday 2 February 2021).
To put that into context, rival car makers such as Toyota, is only valued at $197 billion, and Volkswagen is valued at a mere $106 billion.