US Safety Investigation into Tesla to Expand to 159,000 Vehicles

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In June, the US regulator announced it would be launching a safety probe into Tesla, as a result of problems with the touchscreen on a number of Model S and Model X units. However, as this phase of the vehicles comes to a close, a new chapter is opening in the US regulator’s probe.

The US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on Monday that it has expanded its ongoing investigation into roughly 159,000 Tesla Models S and X to an engineering analysis, as reported by Reuters. The engineering analysis is required for all cars before the regulator can compel a company to recalling its vehicle.

While the updated probe covers all Tesla Model S units from 2012-2018, as well as all Model X units from 2016-2018, the preliminary probe covered about 63,000 Tesla Model S units.

In its current investigation, the NHTSA has said that the prior touchscreen failure issues do not affect any of the Tesla’s vehicle control systems. Tesla’s vehicles use an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor for their memory control units (MCUs). While the NHTSA warned that these devices may have a limited lifespan based on the amount of erase cycles available to the memory unit.

In sum, the NHTSA has reviewed 12,523 claims and complaints about the MCU – ultimately making up about 8% of the vehicles in the investigation.

Hopefully, this won’t result in mass recalls for Tesla, unless they’re necessary for safety, though the NHTSA did also say that certain Tesla models were showing “failure rates [of the MCU] over 30% in certain build months and accelerating failure trends after 3 to 4 years in-service.”

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