Regulators in the US have asked Tesla to recall 158,000 cars for a crash risk stemming from failing touchscreen multimedia units, representing an important quality and safety issue for the electric car manufacturer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US has contacted Tesla and asked the manufacturer to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X units to address failing touchscreens.
The NHTSA says that these failing touch screens represent a clear crash risk for drivers of the Tesla Model S and X.
According to reports, the recall involves Model S and X units produced between 2012 and 2018, which could have ageing memory chips in the display of the touchscreen unit, which are said to be prone to wearing out.
Tesla will be forced to respond to the NHTSA’s letter by January 27, which stated that 158,000 of its cars represented a significant crash risk.
Key amongst the NHTSA’s concerns are failures of the touchscreen unit, which it says represent a “defect related to motor-vehicle safety” that could result in a heightened crash risk.
“The lack of an image on a backup camera display increases the risk of a crash,” says the NHTSA, adding that “if this image is not available, the risk of crash increases potentially causing injury or death.”
The NHTSA has asked Tesla to “provide a remedy” for the issues it has pointed out.
Another concern that the NHTSA points out to Tesla in the recall order is that in the case of a failing touchscreen unit, the driver is unable to access climate control and windshield defrosting controls.
This, according to the recall order, means that “the lack of a functioning windshield defogging and defrosting system may decrease the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of crash.”
“As a result, the lack of a functioning windshield defogging and defrosting system may decrease the driver’s visibility in inclement weather, increasing the risk of crash.”
There have been calls for Tesla to clarify whether the impacted vehicles should be implicated in a global recall order to ensure they’re not a crash risk.
The NHTSA says that the vehicles impacted by the potential recall have been “equipped with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with an integrated 8GB flash memory device.”
“Part of this 8GB storage capacity is used each time the vehicle is started, and the hardware fails when the storage capacity is reached, resulting in failure of the main computer MCU.”
A report from CarAdvice says that “Tesla Australia faced the same issue with local vehicles late last year, however chose not to recall stock.”
Tesla instead opted to offer consumers an alternative warranty for owners, stating that the potential fault had “no impact on basic vehicle driving functionality and controllability.”
Automotive expert Antony Edwards has said that auto manufacturers need to have a robust testing procedure in place to ensure the reliability of their in-car technology.
“Automotive technology is becoming increasingly commonplace and relied upon by drivers. However, ensuring driver and vehicle safety needs to be a top priority,” he said.
“Faulty technology in these vehicles can sever a driver’s access to their vehicle’s backup camera, climate controls, as well as autonomous driving features, all of which can increase the risk of a crash.”