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March 4, 2024

Tesla Issues Largest Recall Ever to Fix Warning Light Font Size

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Feb 2, 2024

Electric vehicle maker Tesla has issued a recall of nearly 2.2 million vehicles in the United States over an issue with the font size on some warning indicator lights being too small. This marks the largest recall in Tesla’s history and one of the biggest in the auto industry overall.

Background

Tesla has come under scrutiny from safety regulators in recent years regarding some of its driver assistance features like Autopilot. There were concerns that the names of these features were misleading to consumers about their actual capabilities. Pressure has been mounting on Tesla CEO Elon Musk to address these concerns.

In late 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into around 850,000 Tesla vehicles over the rearview camera displays potentially failing. This earlier recall was related to a software glitch that could cause the screens to go dark.

Now, the NHTSA has requested Tesla to recall nearly 2.2 million vehicles in the U.S. because certain warning lights are displaying text that is too small. The vehicles involved span nearly the entire current Tesla fleet on American roads, including all four models – the Models 3, S, X and Y.

Details of the New Recall

On February 2nd, 2024, Tesla agreed to recall 2.2 million vehicles, though it maintained there was no actual safety defect.

The NHTSA said Tesla Model 3s produced between 2017-2023, Model Ys made between 2020-2023, along with Model S and Model X vehicles built from 2021 onward are all impacted. This represents nearly all the vehicles Tesla has delivered in the United States to date.

The issue involves indicator lights that warn drivers when the vehicle’s Full Self-Driving or Autopilot driver assistance systems are activated. The NHTSA claims the text displaying the status of those systems is too small, potentially obscuring important safety information from drivers.

Model # Vehicles Affected
Model 3 1.7 million
Model Y 360,000
Model S 125,000
Model X 8,000

“The concern is that drivers could potentially misunderstand status about whether the automated control systems are engaged. This could increase crash risks due to unintended deactivation,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson in a letter to Tesla.

However, Tesla disagreed with the NHTSA’s claims about safety issues. In a strongly-worded blog post, the company said there have been “no crashes, injuries or fatalities” related to the instrument panel.

“Rather than a safety defect, this recall addresses concerns that the display of some alert text does not meet new, very difficult to satisfy, standards included in a December 2022 update to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” Tesla wrote.

Nonetheless, Tesla agreed to issue a voluntary recall and release a free over-the-air software update to increase the font sizes on the instrument lights. Owners can schedule installation of the fix when they receive notifications via the Tesla mobile app.

Response and What’s Next

Tesla’s stock price initially dropped around 5% on news of the massive recall before recovering most of the losses. Some Wall Street analysts said the recall should not have a major long term business impact given it only requires a simple software fix.

“While the recall is significant in scope and size, we believe the fix should be relatively minor,” wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner in a note to investors.

This is Tesla’s third callback in less than a year and by far its largest to date in terms of number of cars affected. Previously, the EV automaker recalled just under 1.1 million vehicles back in February 2023. Prior to that was a callback of 362,000 cars in May 2022.

Consumer advocacy groups applauded the decision to recall the vehicles.

“Kudos to NHTSA for insisting Tesla adhere to the same safety standards followed by all other automakers,” said Michael Brooks, chief counsel for the Center for Auto Safety.

Critics like Brooks would still like to see Tesla be more proactive addressing related concerns around its Autopilot driver assistance features, however. There are calls for the name “Full Self-Driving” to be changed to more accurately indicate it is not actually fully autonomous yet. For now, Tesla does not appear inclined to make such a change.

Going forward, there will likely be heightened regulatory and public attention around any potential new safety issues with Teslas on the road. Still, the company maintains the instrument panel font size does not represent a true compromise of safety.

Tesla will move ahead fixing the 2.2 million recalled vehicles via software updates while continuing ambitious production ramps for existing models and the upcoming Cybertruck. Despite clashes with regulators, robust consumer demand for electric cars suggests we haven’t seen the last of Tesla making history – for better or worse.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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