Tesla’s cars may continue to smash sales and performance records but their build quality is still a problem, as the brand’s most recent awkward recall shows.
Reuters reports that Tesla is recalling almost 1.1 million US cars because the window auto reversal system might not respond correctly to an obstruction. This could increase the risk of injury. The windows should automatically stop if they see an obstruction in their path, such as a finger or hand. However, in some cases, they fail to do so, leading to pinched fingers…or worse.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this fault is a failure of affected vehicles. These vehicles include 2017-2022 Model 3, 2020-2021 Model Y and 2021-2022 Model S / Model X. Australia has not yet issued a recall notice regarding the fault.
“This seems to be a problem with Tesla cars for some time now.” James Nelson, a software engineer, shared his love for Tesla on LinkedIn. “But my Tesla is of questionable reliability. It’s unsafe for children who are too small to follow instructions or get in and off their seatsbelts independently.”
“Every time I get out my car, I leave at most one door open until everyone’s in and everyone is out. But worrying about that with a $65+k car (before tax) is surprising to say at least.”
So, some Teslas are actually pinching people’s fingers. What’s the deal? What’s most interesting about Tesla’s plans for fixing the problem is its ability to say that it’s a recall.
Tesla is not recalling cars in traditional terms. They will push an over-the air software update that will “enhance vehicle’s automatic windows reversal system behavior,” as Tesla describes it. Tesla is asking you to update your system, just as you would with a cell phone or computer. You are now able to enjoy modern motoring.
That’s the essence of the matter: Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, has suggested that calling it a “recall” is misleading. “The terminology is obsolete & inaccurate. This is an over-the-air update to software. Musk stated in a now-deleted Tweet that there were no injuries to our knowledge.
Even though this problem may seem trivial, it is embarrassing that Tesla must continue to recall (or bug fix) their vehicles in this manner.
“Traditional suppliers of automotive parts have been doing this for decades.” Phillip Koopman, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University who is a vehicle safety expert, relates a “crush-the-soda can” informational demonstration at a supplier in 1990.
Some Model 3 year models now have an astonishing 13 recalls and 4 investigations listed at the NHTSA recall site. We are seeing the consequences of’move fast and fix things’ for automobile safety. There are still many years for age-related problems to arise.
Tesla has always sought to be as independent in its supply chains as possible. This has allowed them to weather many supply chain-related problems that have plagued the industry over the past few years, including the global chip shortage.
However, Tesla’s cars are still plagued with poor quality control, especially for US-made cars. It is widely known that Chinese-made Teslas have superior build quality than their US-made counterparts. They are clearly not able to do everything by themselves.
Elon Musk called safety regulators “the funny police”, but trivializing safety concerns such as these – even benign ones like pinched fingers inside windows – doesn’t fill us with confidence.