Science and Tech


Tesla's Recall Isn't What You're Thinking

Tesla issued a recall Tuesday, but no cars are going back. Instead, Tesla will release a software update for 29,000 Model S chargers.
Posted at 3:57 PM, Jan 14, 2014

​Citing a potential fire hazard, Tesla has issued a recall on roughly 29,000 charging adapters on its 2013 Model S cars.

Tesla explains in a letter, “When charging, higher than normal electrical resistance connections to external energy sources may cause excessive heating of the adapter.”

But don’t get hung up on the word "recall." A Tesla spokesperson tells Business Insider, the term is “outdated.” (Via Tesla)

Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday, Some confusion in media reports today. No Tesla vehicles are being physically recalled by Tesla.” (Via Twitter / @elonmusk)

The company says, all that needs fixing is the adapter. And that is “being done with an ‘over-the-air’ software update, so there was no need for owners to bring their vehicles into a dealership,” according to The New York Times.

So it’s essentially like updating an app on your phone. Owners can check to see if they’ve received the update by looking at the car’s center information screen. The Detroit Free Press reports – 

This update allows the Model S on board charging system to detect any unexpected fluctuations in the input power or higher resistance connections to the vehicle”

Tesla is, however, developing a new wall charger adapter that it will also send to customers. (Via Autoblog)

Most Model Ses don’t really need the update though, as this defect was reportedly only found in less than 3 percent of the more than 29,000 adapters. Yet, it’s grabbing a lot of headlines. (Via Tesla)

This type of media storm is nothing new for Musk, who told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last November –

“Our three non-injurious car fires got more national headlines than a quarter million gasoline car fires.”

And this is interesting timing. On the same day as the recall grabs attention, Tesla releases this press release, announcing it’s expected to exceed revenue guidance by 20 percent in the fourth quarter.

In the release, Tesla says this is thanks to “superlative road safety and excellent cold weather performance.”