Tesla has recalled 675,000 cars in the United States and China over problems with the trunk and hood of two models, raising new questions about the safety of the popular electric vehicle. Chinese regulators on Friday announced the recall of nearly 200,000 cars, hours after some 475,000 Tesla vehicles were flagged in the United States.
According to US and Chinese regulators, the problems with the trunk and hood of the Tesla cars with Elon Musk increase the risk of crashes. Authorities said repeatedly opening and closing the trunk of the Tesla Model 3 could damage a rearview camera cable. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a problem with the hood latch of the Tesla Model S could cause it to open without warning and obscure the driver’s view.
Tesla estimates that the problems affect one percent of Model 3 vehicles and 14 percent of Model S recalls in the United States, with no accidents to date.
Mass recalls not rare in the auto industry
Volkswagen had to retire 8.5 million cars in 2015 over the Dieselgate scandal, in which the German company admitted to tampering with millions of diesel cars to dupe emissions tests.
In recent years, at least 100 million vehicles have been recalled by car companies around the world because of a defect in airbags from the bankrupt Japanese company Takata.
Tesla’s recall represents a quarter of the number of cars Elon Musk’s fledgling company has produced to date.
“However, it is a real wake-up call for Tesla, with a slap in the face welcome to the automotive world that is perhaps more complex than the smartphone industry to which many like to compare it,” said German auto analyst Matthias Schmidt.
“After all, a faulty four-wheeled car can do a lot more potential damage than a faulty iPhone,” says Schmidt.
– Other incidents –
In June, Tesla recalled more than 285,000 cars in China over problems with its assisted driving software that could cause accidents.
The company also recalled thousands of Model 3 and Model Y vehicles earlier that month to inspect brake calipers for loose bolts.
In November, the NHTSA recalled nearly 12,000 Tesla cars due to errors with their communications software.
US safety officials are also investigating Tesla’s Autopilot after identifying 11 crashes involving the driver assistance system
Last month, US highway safety authorities demanded details from Tesla about problems with its new autonomous system, building on a previously announced investigation.
Tesla executives have downplayed the regulatory investigations, saying they were expected to work with “cutting edge” technology and that they were “cooperating as much as possible.”
– Banner year –
The troubles spelled disaster for an otherwise excellent year for Tesla as it joined the exclusive club of companies with a market cap of $1 trillion.
The company posted a record 240,000 in the third quarter and Tesla billionaire boss Elon Musk was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
Tesla’s luck was in stark contrast to other traditional automakers that were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and a shortage of semiconductors that are key components in cars.
Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with the consultancy Global Equities Research, said Tesla’s latest recall is a “non-event” as the company still has a big advantage over its competitors.