Tesla Will Send Customers an Upgraded Charging Adapter

By · January 12, 2014

Tesla Model S Charging

On Friday, Tesla Motors announced that it would upgrade the Model S charging adapter after reports of overheating in garages. The company will provide the new adapter to its customers for free in the next two weeks. The redesigned adapter will include a thermal fuse that shuts off charging if overheating is detected.

Bloomberg reported that there have been about a half-dozen incidents, posted to a Tesla-owner website, in which “Model S wall plugs melted or smoked while vehicles were recharging.”

In a press release, Tesla pointed to possible causes including a “variety of factors such as corrosion, physical damage to receptacles, or inappropriate wiring or installation of electrical outlets.” According to the company, this can cause higher than normal electrical resistance when using the Universal Mobile Connector (“UMC”) NEMA 14-50 adapters to charge Tesla Model S vehicles.

Tesla confirmed that in December it released an over-the-air software update to address this issue, enabling the Model S onboard charging system to automatically reduce the charging current by 25 percent if it detects unexpected fluctuations in the input power to the vehicle.

The company said the over-the-air software update “fully” addressed the issue, and that the improved adapter is not “required.” Yet, the company was taking the step to express its “commitment to full customer satisfaction.”

“These are very rare events, but occasionally the wiring isn’t done right,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg. “We want people to have absolute comfort, so we’re going to be providing them with an upgraded adapter.”

Update Jan. 15: The National Highway Traffic Agency designated Tesla's steps to correct problems with overheating charging adapters as a "recall." Tesla executives objected to the term, claiming that its corrective measures were mostly a software update, although new replacement adapters equipped with an internal thermal fuse will be mailed to owners.

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