Tesla recalls 2 million vehicles over autopilot safety issue, government agency says

The company will release a software update for the cars.

December 13, 2023, 9:12 AM

Tesla will recall about 2 million cars over a safety issue tied to its autopilot system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Wednesday.

The company's autopilot system may put drivers at greater risk of an accident in certain situations, the NHTSA added.

The electric automaker will release a software update for the vehicles impacted next February, the agency said.

Tesla posted a message on X on Monday -- two days before the announced recall -- in response to safety concerns centered on its Autopilot system.

"We at Tesla believe that we have a moral obligation to continue improving our already best-in-class safety systems," the company said. "At the same time, we also believe it is morally indefensible not to make these systems available to a wider set of consumers, given the incontrovertible data that shows it is saving lives and preventing injury."

"Regulators around the globe have a duty to protect consumers, and the Tesla team looks forward to continuing our work with them towards our common goal of eliminating as many deaths and injuries as possible on our roadways," the company added.

The NHTSA identified a safety defect tied to potential driver misuse of Tesla's Autopilot system, an agency spokesperson said, noting that the recall follows an investigation of the Autopilot system that has spanned more than two years.

The investigation focused on situations in which a driver failed to "maintain responsibility" for a vehicle while Autopilot was deployed, resulting in an inability to intervene or identify when autopilot had been disengaged, the agency said.

"Automated technology holds great promise for improving safety but only when it is deployed responsibly; today’s action is an example of improving automated systems by prioritizing safety," a NHTSA spokesperson added.

As part of this investigation, the agency reviewed 956 crashes where Autopilot was alleged to have been in use, then focused on a narrower set of 322 Autopilot-related accidents, including frontal collisions and collisions from potential unintended disengagement of the system, the agency added.

The recall affects some Tesla vehicles made as early as 2012, the agency said. The affected models include Model 3, Model S, Model X and Model Y.

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