‘Defective’ Tesla Door Handles Investigation Dropped by South Korean Police

One year ago a civic group known as the “Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty” in South Korea asked prospective to investigate Tesla over its alleged ‘defective’ door handles.

The issue stems from the integrated and flush design of door handles on the Tesla Model S and Model X, which the group alleged had serious design flaws in the event of accidents and power loss. The door handles pop out when touched by owners. This was called a design “defect” by the group, despite the handles being able to be opened manually without power.

If there’s no power, front doors on the Model X have a manual door release located in front of window switches.

The front driver and passenger doors of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y also have manual release latches, should power not be available. However, the same cannot be said for the rear doors, as manual releases are located at the bottom of map pockets (Model Y) and are not easily accessible.

“Despite being previously aware of defects such as the Tesla Model X’s touch-based approach and the hidden pop-up method of the Model S creating difficulties for safe operation, [Tesla] has concealed them and failed to take any corrective action, while continuing to engage in unethical business activities, focusing solely on economic profits at the expense of consumers’ safety and lives,” alleged the “Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty”.

The group also said transport ministry requirements cite at least one door per row of seats should be able to be opened in the event of an accident, without any tools required. When a Tesla loses power, the electric door release switches remain a problem, said the group.

The allegations were investigated by the anti-corruption and public crime investigation team of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, which concluded on Thursday it had dropped the case.

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The decision was made last month by police to drop the case and not pursue charges against Tesla CEO Elon Musk, its South Korean affiliate and also Tesla’s headquarters in the U.S. The civic group accused Tesla of fraud and violating the Motor Vehicle Management Act and Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising.

“The accusers claimed that the failure of the vehicle’s door to open when the power was shut off represented a ‘vehicle defect,’ and after questioning of witnesses and an authoritative interpretation from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, it was determined that this could not be viewed as a flaw that creates problems for safe operation of the vehicle, and the decision was made not to refer the case due to lack of evidence,” said a police official, reports Hankyoreh.

The Seoul police department received the complaint last year and launched an investigation in November 2021.