U.S. safety regulators are asking Tesla to recall about 158,000 vehicles for safety concerns over media control unit (MCU) failures that cause the touchscreen displays to stop working,
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Tesla in a Jan.13 letter to recall some Model S luxury sedans and Model X sport-utility vehicles. NHTSA asked for the recall because the cars’ touch screens can fail after a few years of use, affecting safety functions such as defogging and back-up cameras.
Certain of these Model S and Model X vehicles were equipped with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device. Part of this 8GB storage capacity is used each time the vehicle is started. The eMMC NAND cell hardware fails when the storage capacity is reached, resulting in failure of the MCU. The MCU is the vehicle’s display screen, which controls certain aspects of performance subject to Federal motor vehicle safety standards (“FMVSS”) and other safety-relevant functions. Specifically, failure of the MCU results in loss of the rearview/backup camera and loss of HVAC (defogging and defrosting setting controls (if the HVAC status was OFF status prior to failure). The failure also has an adverse impact on the Autopilot advanced driver assistance system (“ADAS”), as well as turn signal functionality due to the possible loss of audible chimes, driver sensing, and alerts associated with these vehicle functions, the safety agency says.
Tesla doesn’t have to recall the vehicles, though NHTSA said in the letter that if the car maker doesn’t take the action it has to provide an explanation for its decision. The agency can then escalate the matter to a public hearing and eventually seek to force a recall through the courts.
Tesla delivered nearly 500,000 vehicles globally last year, roughly 205,600 of them in the U.S.