The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has requested Tesla to recall about 158,000 Model S and Model X over an issue with the vehicles’ media control unit, where key features such as the backup camera are displayed. The recall affects Model X SUVs produced from 2016 to 2018 and Model S sedans that were manufactured from 2012 to 2018.
As noted by the NHTSA, the culprit behind the Model S and Model X’s MCU issues are the worn-out flash memory chips that were used in the two flagship vehicles from 2012 to 2018. Whenever a Tesla owner turns on their vehicles, it eats away at the total capacity of the 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip onboard the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor that powers the MCU. This becomes an issue when the capacity is reached, about five to six years later.
In a letter, the NHTSA noted that while Tesla has rolled out over-the-air updates that could help mitigate some issues on its vehicles, the problems with the Model S and Model X are substantial. When the memory chip fails, after all, drivers will lose access to key features such as their backup camera, which are now federally mandated. And without a backup camera, the risk of crashes increases.
“During an MCU failure, the screen becomes black, and a rearview/backup camera image is no longer available to the driver. If this image is not available, the risk of crash increases potentially causing injury or death,” the NHTSA noted.
Tesla has confirmed that all MCU units with these chips “will inevitably fail,” as per the agency. The electric car maker has also provided a statistical model that featured the projections for weekly repairs lasting from 2020 to 2028, with Tesla expecting most failures to happen around 2022.
It should be noted that for now, the NHTSA is only issuing a request for Tesla to recall the affected Model S and Model X vehicles. The agency’s formal investigation, which was started last June, is still underway despite the recent recall request. Tesla, for its part, has not issued a comment about the issue to date.
The NHTSA’s letter to Tesla could be viewed below.
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