Tesla recalls more than 362,000 electric cars over Autopilot crash risk

Tesla Inc is recalling hundreds of thousands of vehicles after U.S. authorities said its self-driving technology could increase the risk of crashes. The automaker’s so-called Full Self-Driving Beta system “may cause vehicles to engage in unsafe behavior near intersections,” including driving straight from a turning lane and passing a steady traffic lane, according to a filing Thursday with the U.S. National Highway Administration. Yellow traffic lights. Transportation Security Administration.

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Updated on:
February 17, 2023 at 8:22 am

U.S. safety regulators have pressured Tesla to recall nearly 363,000 vehicles equipped with its Full Self-Driving system because it misbehaved at intersections and didn’t always obey speed limits. (Associated Press)

Errors in the system “increased the risk of a collision if the driver did not intervene,” the document said.

The recall involves 362,758 vehicles, including certain Model 3, Model X, Model Y and Model S models produced between 2016 and 2023. NHTSA said it expects Tesla to address the issue with an over-the-air software update by April 15.

The agency’s concerns have raised new questions about a system that Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has deemed critical to the company’s long-term prospects.

“The overwhelming focus is on solving the problem of full self-driving,” Musk said in a June 2022 interview with Tesla fans on YouTube. “It’s important. It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or basically nothing.”

While Musk didn’t mention the specifics of the NHTSA document, he tweeted Thursday that the term “recall” was “completely wrong” because the issues could be fixed with a software update.

The company’s self-driving technology has already come under scrutiny in Washington. Since 2021, NHTSA has been working on how to handle crash scenes after more than a dozen collisions with first responders and other vehicles. The agency also opened an investigation last year into complaints that Tesla vehicles equipped with the Autopilot driver assistance system braked suddenly while traveling at high speeds.

NHTSA said in a separate statement Thursday that its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot is still ongoing.

The company has also been accused of exaggerating the capabilities of its technology.

“Major issues with Tesla’s system include the misleading names ‘Full Self-Driving’ and ‘Autopilot,'” said David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He added that Tesla “does not have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that drivers will give their full attention to the road.”

The company’s website stresses that its autonomous features such as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving “require active supervision from the driver and do not allow the vehicle to drive itself.”

Tesla shares turned negative after the recall notice, closing down 5.7% on Thursday.

“potential problems”

The agency said it first notified Tesla on Jan. 25 that it had identified “potential issues related to certain operating characteristics of FSD Beta in four specific road environments” and requested that the automaker file a recall .

In the days that followed, Tesla met with the agency several times. The company disagreed with the agency’s analysis, but decided on Feb. 7 to go ahead with the recall “out of an abundance of caution,” according to NHTSA.

Representatives for Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla identified 18 warranty claims between May 2019 and September 2022 that were “likely related” to conditions of concern to NHTSA, but told the agency it was not aware of any fatalities related to the defect.

“It’s encouraging that instead of trying to fight it, Tesla is working with NHTSA,” said Missy Cummings, a professor at George Mason University who specializes in autonomous systems and spent a year at the agency. “It’s a good sign that the company is maturing.”

First published date: Feb 17, 2023 at 08:22 AM CST


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