Tesla slammed with multiple safety recalls, hopes to solve issues with software updates

The news: Tesla has been forced to recall over 817,000 cars over seat belt alerts that could fail to work. The EV pioneer has also recalled almost 54,000 cars for a “rolling stop” function that flouts traffic laws by failing to make complete stops at stop signs, per Insider.

What this means: The recalls aren’t only inconvenient to hundreds of thousands of customers, they also expose cracks in Tesla’s “ship now and fix later” methodology. It’s an approach that works for smartphones and PCs but has substantial risks when it comes to passenger cars.

  • The recall affecting 817,143 cars—which includes all Tesla Model 3, Model Y, and some Model S and Model X vehicles made in 2021 and 2022—pertains to a signal that does not chime when seatbelts are unbuckled.
  • The recall affecting 53,822 vehicles pertains to cars with the Full Self-Driving feature, which has a setting that lets cars roll through stop signs when they should fully stop. 
  • Tesla also recalled more than 285,000 vehicles in China last year due to a cruise control safety issue, as well as 8,000 vehicles for faulty seat belts.
  • Tesla says it will release an over-the-air software update correcting the seatbelt chime fault this month.

What’s the catch? Tesla rushing production to meet the high demand of its EVs is resulting in an increasing number of recalls. More alarming is that the recalls are all safety related and involve faults that most traditional carmakers would have worked out before shipping the vehicles.

The bigger picture: Lauded for a tech-like strategy that has enabled it to overcome the chip crisis, the same approach of applying software updates to patch vehicle problems could prove detrimental in the long run.

  • The automotive industry is watching Tesla as it leads in the EV space. This means competitors can use Tesla’s shortcomings to their advantage by doubling down on passenger and driver safety features.
  • These safety recalls will likely draw the ire of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has at least 23 other active investigations into crashes that allegedly involved Tesla’s Autopilot tech.