Federal regulators say they are looking into whether Tesla should have recalled 2,000 of its electric cars in May instead of issuing a software upgrade to fix a potential defect that could have resulted in battery fires. According to a report on Autoblog, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it has opened a review to assess claims made in a petition about Tesla’s handling of the software upgrade in Model S and Model X vehicles from the 2012-2019 model years. The agency said the petition’s claims cover about 2,000 Tesla vehicles.
Lawsuits Against Tesla
Tesla is also facing lawsuits over its updates to its battery charging software and is now looking at complaints involving vehicles that crashed in parking lots while using a self-driving feature called Smart Summon. The 2,000 vehicles covered by the petition to NHTSA received a battery management software upgrade in May in response to a potential defect that could trigger non-crash-related fires.
In August, a class-action lawsuit filed in California on behalf of a Tesla owner alleged that Tesla knew some vehicle batteries were defective and yet, pushed out software updates in spite of knowing that the class vehicles would suffer from a loss in range and performance. The lawsuit also alleges that Tesla’s goal was to avoid providing warranty battery replacements to customers.
After a Model S caught fire in Hong Kong, Tesla said it was going to revise charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via a software update. Tesla later said it planned to improve the software update after some owners complained. Both the NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have investigated other battery and charging system issues with Tesla vehicles.
Auto Product Liability Issues
There have been a number of instances around the world where Tesla vehicles have spontaneously caught fire. There have also been several reports and lawsuits involving Tesla batteries that have caught fire during car accidents. The intense fires have been difficult to put out and even after they have been extinguished, they have been known to reignite.
When it comes to defective autos, timely recalls are critical. Automakers put off recalls for as long as they can because they want to avoid the bad publicity and large expenses that come with these recall campaigns. But, when they stall recalls, they are doing consumers a major disservice. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dangerous or defective auto, an experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.