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Tesla Faces Heat With Feds On Why It Didn’t Recall Updated ‘Autopilot’ Vehicles
By Alexa Heah, 14 Oct 2021
Image via Tesla
In July, Tesla released the beta for its full self-driving software, with updates to the vehicle’s driving visualization feature and rearview mirror cameras to better detect driver attentiveness. A month later, the electric car firm faced an official investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), looking into crashes linked to its Autopilot program.
Now, in a letter to the company, the agency said Tesla should have recalled vehicles after it released another over-the-air update to correct safety issues in late September. As per the NHTSA, the update was to improve the detection of emergency vehicle lights in dark environments, which could be related to Tesla’s cars repeatedly crashing into stationary first-responders.
“Any manufacturer issuing an over-the-air update that mitigates a defect that poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety is required to timely file an accompanying recall notice to NHTSA,” the NHTSA wrote in a letter to Tesla’s Director of Field Quality, Eddie Gates.
It also requested for the brand to provide more information on its Autopilot program, which is already being used on US roads by those with beta access. The letter was posted directly on the agency’s site, though Tesla—which currently has no public relations department—has yet to respond.
The NHTSA wants Tesla to provide the full list of events that led to its software update, as well as which vehicles it affected. If it decides not to file a recall, it also has to “furnish Tesla’s technical and/or legal basis for declining to do so.” If the firm doesn’t comply by November 1, it could face fines of over US$114 million.
This isn’t the first standoff between the agency and Tesla. Previously, as per MarketWatch, the brand had refused to recall approximately 135,000 cars which had faulty touch screens. However, it did eventually agree to the recall, though only after the NHTSA started moving towards a public hearing.
Will Tesla agree to the agency’s demands this time? We’ll have to wait and see.
[via MarketWatch, cover image via Tesla]
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