Tesla Recalls More Than 1.5 Million EVs in China

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has announced that Tesla is recalling more than 1.5 million Model 3, S, Y and X electric vehicles in China to fix issues with door-latch controls and automatic assisted steering. SAMR noted that some recalled vehicles had a bug that allowed drivers to misuse the level 2 combined assisted when the automatic assisted steering function was on, significantly increasing the risk of collision.

Another 7,538 imported Tesla models that were manufactured between Oct. 26, 2022, and Nov. 16, 2023, had a “problem with the door unlock logic controls” that allowed door latches to open during collisions. Last week’s announcement revealed that Tesla Motors in Shanghai and Beijing would use remote upgrades to fix the issues. This means most Tesla owners in China won’t have to visit Tesla service centers to fix their vehicles.

The automatic steering-assist function problem affected 1.6 million imported Model S, Model 3, Model Y and Model Xs while the door-unlock logic control problem was present in 7,538 imported Model S and Model X Teslas. Although the Texas-based automaker has been at the forefront of pioneering cutting-edge electric vehicle technology, its attempts at creating driver-assist technology have been fraught with several issues.

Following a series of 956 traffic accidents involving Tesla that occurred when the autopilot partially automated driving system was active, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a probe into Tesla’s driver-assist software. A two-year investigation found that the driver assist system was defective. The NHTSA said that while automated driving technology has a lot of promise as a safety feature, it is only effective when “deployed responsibly.”

Tesla’s upgrades are designed to make drivers who use the autopilot system pay more attention to the road by alerting them and warning them to keep their hands on the wheel. However, research from several institutions, including the National Transportation Safety Board and NHTSA, has found that only measuring the amount of torque on the steering wheel is not sufficient enough to make sure drivers are paying attention.

This latest recall comes barely a month after Tesla recalled more than 2 million electric cars in the United States after a federal investigation revealed that the Austin-based automaker did not take steps to prevent drivers from misusing the autopilot feature. The U.S. recall applied to nearly every Tesla that was delivered in the country since Tesla launched the autopilot feature back in 2015; the fix was delivered via an online upgrade.

The software challenges that major EV makers such as Tesla face could give rivals including VinFast Auto Ltd. (NASDAQ: VFS) an opportunity to offer customers electric vehicles that are free from the performance issues that are casting doubts on the big brands.

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