Tesla Recalls Nearly All Vehicles Due to Autopilot Failures

Tesla disagrees with feds’ analysis of glitches

Elon Musk speaking this year (Photo by John Anderson)

Tesla recalled nearly all of its vehicles today – close to 2 million – in response to a two-year National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into its partially self-driving Autopilot system.

Tesla will provide a software update to owners of models Y, S, 3, and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7, 2023, that will increase warnings and alerts to drivers, in an attempt to get them to pay better attention to the road. It will also limit where Tesla’s Autosteer software can be used and potentially suspend drivers from using it if they repeatedly fail to “demonstrate… driving responsibility.”

CEO Elon Musk took to X (formerly Twitter) in February to complain about people calling the NHTSA’s software updates “recalls,” writing that defining them as such is “anachronistic and just flat wrong!” However, part of drivers’ confusion might stem from another misnomer: Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving car systems are not actually fully self-driving; the Tesla website says they “are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment… currently enabled features do not make the vehicle autonomous.” Musk has long touted fully autonomous vehicles as safer than human drivers, and said he expects to roll out truly fully self-driving cars this year. The timeline used to be by 2020, however, and continues to be moved up due to repeated safety issues.

In February of this year, Tesla recalled 363,000 cars with the Full Self-Driving software in response to glitches causing them to not obey speed limits or come to full stops at intersections. Before that, the NHTSA launched their investigation in August 2021 in response to several accidents during which drivers using the Autopilot software crashed into emergency vehicles stopped for a call. Since 2016, 30 crashes involving Tesla Autopilot resulted in 14 deaths. Tesla does not agree with the NHTSA’s analysis of its issues but has agreed to the recall in order to resolve the investigation, according to AP News.

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