Tesla Model S Comes Of Age, Gets First Recall

By · June 19, 2013

Tesla Model S seats

Tesla Model S interior

Certain Tesla Model S luxury sedans will be recalled in the coming weeks due to a minor manufacturing fault with the second-row seats, Tesla C.E.O. Elon Musk announced today.

According to Musk’s frank blog post on the Tesla website this morning, the suspected faulty part—the left-hand latch for the middle-row seat—may not have been properly aligned in the factory, making it weaker than Tesla had originally designed. Since the latch is responsible for holding the seat securely in place in the event of an accident, Tesla has decided to voluntarily recall affected cars.

“As designed, the striker bracket is both bonded and welded to the vehicle body, either one of which would be sufficient by itself,” Musk explained earlier today. “This is consistent with the primary design goal of the Model S, which is first and foremost to maximize safety. However, we discovered that, due to body side alignment adjustments in the factory, the bonded section of the joint was compromised and the welded section of the joint was weakened in some cars.”

Tesla notes that there have been no known failures in the seat latches to date, but wishes to recall the affected cars—made between May 10 and June 8 this year—to ensure maximum safety for its customers and their families. Tesla adds that there have been no complaints to date and the decision to recall the cars was entirely led by Tesla.

Affected cars which had not left the factory when the fault was discovered have already been fixed prior to delivery, further reducing the number of recalls. Only those made between the specified dates—and delivered between mid-to-late May and early June—will need to be recalled.

This is the first recall for Tesla’s luxury sedan, although not the first recall for a Tesla-made car. The Model S’s predecessor, the two-seat Roadster, was recalled several times during its production.

It’s worth noting however, that Tesla’s recalls to date are well within expected industry norms. Moreover, Tesla’s attitude to recalls—especially in terms of the way in which the recall is announced and carried out— is refreshingly honest when compared to traditional automakers.

Musk said that affected Model S owners will be contacted within the next few days, and arrangements will be made with each owner to check and reinforce the faulty latch as required. Rather than require owners to take their cars into a local Tesla service center, Musk said Tesla will pick up affected cars at a convenient location for the owner, provide a loaner Model S if necessary, and return customers cars a few hours later once remedial work has been carried out.

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