Tesla is initiating a recall of over two million vehicles in the United States, equipped with its Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system, following concerns raised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding safety issues. The safety regulator has been investigating Tesla for more than two years, focusing on whether the Autopilot system ensures drivers remain attentive while using it.
The recall, reported as the largest in Tesla's history, is seemingly comprehensive, covering nearly all Tesla vehicles on U.S. roads. Tesla, in its recall filing, acknowledged that the Autopilot's software controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse,” potentially heightening the risk of accidents.
The NHTSA's scrutiny, ongoing since August 2021, intensified after identifying numerous incidents where Tesla vehicles using Autopilot collided with stationary emergency vehicles. Despite Tesla's disagreement with the NHTSA's analysis, the company intends to address the concerns through an over-the-air software update. This update aims to incorporate additional controls and alerts to encourage drivers to adhere to their responsibility while Autosteer is engaged.
The recall affects various Tesla models, including the Model S, X, 3, and Y, dating back to the 2012 model year. The company's remedy includes visual alert enhancements, simplifying Autosteer engagement and disengagement, and additional checks upon engagement.
It remains unclear whether the recall will extend beyond the United States, and the response from international regulators, such as China and Germany, is yet to be determined. While the NHTSA investigation stays open to monitor the efficacy of Tesla's remedies, the company faces scrutiny and has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department regarding its Full Self-Driving (FSD) and Autopilot systems.
This development follows a series of investigations into Tesla's Autopilot, with NHTSA reviewing numerous crashes where the system was implicated. The recall underscores concerns about the potential misuse of Autopilot and raises questions about the responsibility placed on human drivers versus the system itself. Tesla's stock experienced a 1.5% decline in morning trading following the announcement.
As the situation evolves, regulators, safety advocates, and Tesla stakeholders continue to monitor the developments surrounding the Autopilot system and the impact of this significant recall on the electric automaker.