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NHTSA asks Tesla to recall 158,716 Model X, S over touchscreen glitch

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Customers look at a Tesla Motors Inc. Model X electric vehicle on display at the company’s showroom in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked Tesla in a letter on Wednesday to recall 158,716 of its Model S and Model X vehicles manufactured before 2019, after owners complained of touchscreen glitches that led to the loss of several safety-related features.

The affected cars, made at Tesla’s Fremont, California, auto plant, include Tesla Model S sedans made between 2012 and 2018, and Model X SUVs in model years from 2016 to 2018.

Tesla can refuse to conduct the recall, but would have to present a full explanation of why to NHTSA, which could then propose further action. A recall of 158,716 vehicles would represent around 10% of Tesla’s lifetime reported production through the end of 2020.Tesla produced its millionth electric vehicle in Mar. 2020, CEO Elon Musk tweeted at the time, and in the last three quarters of 2020 the company produced more than 400,000 additional vehicles.

The memory devices in some Tesla MCUs have a limited “write cycle,” which means they — and therefore the media control unit itself — won’t work well, or at all, after they hit a certain number of program or erase cycles.

Owners of affected Tesla vehicles previously told CNBC that the display on their media control units (or MCUs) would sometimes go blank, in part or in whole. The touchscreen issues interfered with drivers’ ability to use heat, air conditioning, defrost and defogging systems in their cars, or to use their rear view cameras and Tesla Autopilot features while parking and driving.

In the letter, sent to Tesla’s vice president of legal Al Prescott, the federal vehicle safety authority wrote that Tesla’s MCU issues could increase the risk of drivers crashing due to the “possible loss of audible chimes, driver sensing, and alerts” that are part of Tesla Autopilot, the company’s advanced driver assistance system.

Media control unit failure rates were as high as 17% in older Tesla Model S vehicles (made from 2012 to 2015) and as high as 4% for cars made by Tesla from 2016 to 2018, the letter said. And the MCU failures are expected to increase as cars age and remain in use, NHTSA said, citing Tesla projections.

“Given Tesla’s projects of MCU repairs, even MY [model year] 2018 subject vehicles will experience 100% failure of the MCU within approximately 10 years,” NHTSA investigators wrote.

Tesla previously offered a “warranty expansion” to assuage customers upset over the defect. As CNBC reported then, some owners who had paid for media control unit replacements out of pocket, would be able to recoup their costs under the expanded warranty.

Read the full letter from NHTSA to Tesla.


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Tata Motors news: Tata Motors ties up with private lenders for commercial vehicles financing

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NEW DELHI: Homegrown auto major Tata Motors on Monday said it has entered into partnerships with leading private banks, including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank, to fund its commercial vehicles.

The tie-ups aim to enhance value offerings for customers of both new as well as pre-owned vehicles throughout the customer lifecycle, Tata Motors said in a statement.

The offerings arising out of these tie-ups will include ancillary financial provisions such as fuel financing, working capital financing, aggregate financing and service cost financing. It will enable customers to avail attractive financial schemes from all the partner financiers with minimal formalities, it added.

The other private banks include Equitas Small Finance Bank, AU Small Finance Bank, Union Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. NBFCs such as Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Co Ltd, HDB Financial Services, and Sundaram Finance are also part of the tie-ups.

“Our partnership will certainly add value and leverage our common strengths to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers.

“We are confident of an increased reach in customer categories, product segments and geographies and hope that this will help us serve our customers in an efficient and delightful manner in the future as well,” said Tata Motors Vice-President (Sales and Marketing, and Commercial Vehicles Business Unit) Rajesh Kaul.

Tata Motors said its BS-VI offerings have garnered “an overwhelming response in the market, with the fleet owners appreciating the lowered total cost of ownership of the vehicles”.

It added that in the wake of such enthusiasm, these financial offerings promise customers easy access to financial schemes from leading banks in the country for the purchase and financing of the vehicles and services.

Some of these financing solutions will target large corporate and individual customers with large fleets in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle (M&HCV) space, with attractive offerings in terms of cost and high quality of service, the company said.

It added that some others will cater to small commercial vehicle (SCV) customers in semi-urban and rural locations, with special offerings dedicated to the customers of pick-up, the Tata Yodha.


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Toyota Kirloskar Motor ties up with government for skilling youths

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NEW DELHI: Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) on Monday said it has joined hands with the government of India for skilling of youths. The company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Directorate General of Training (DGT), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to develop skills among youth under the Flexi-MoU Scheme of the government of India, TKM said in a statement.

Under the Flexi-MoU scheme, TKM is identified as Industrial Training Provider (ITP) to develop skilled human resources for manufacturing companies and first-time entrepreneurs, it added.

The company will focus on developing students at the Toyota Technical Training Institute (TTTI) through its Toyota Koushalya programme. TTTI imparts skills training to youth from economically weaker sections of the society from rural areas of Karnataka.

The Toyota Koushalya provides an opportunity for the youth to acquire skills relevant to the manufacturing industry and improve their employment potential through a ‘Learn and Earn’ approach consisting of a mix of theoretical and On-the-Job Training (OJT). These youth will be trained by supervisors who are Master Trainers in the world-renowned Toyota Production System (TPS), the company said.

“Upon completion of the training, trainees need to take up an exam jointly conducted by DGT and TKM as per DGT guidelines and Craftsman Training Scheme (CTS) to get certified. The programme aims at skilling youth who have passed their 10th standard and facing difficulty in affording higher education. Admissions to the programme have already commenced,” it added.

The two-year training programme will be imparted in four trades – automobile welding, automobile assembly, automobile painting and mechatronic, TKM said.

Quoting Neelam Shami Rao, Director, Directorate General of Training, Government of India the statement said: “The Flexi-MoU scheme is designed to cater to the needs of both the industry and the trainees. The scheme allows industries to train candidates as per their skill set requirements and provides trainees with an industry environment aligned with the market demand and latest technology. We are glad to partner with Toyota to develop youth as skilled and industry-ready employable technicians.”

TKM Vice President, HR and Services G Shankara said Toyota has a unique philosophy of developing quality people and focuses “on developing its people, who in turn establish good processes, offer ever-better products and services, thereby achieving customer delight.”


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Hero Motors acquires strategic stake in Hewland Engineering for undisclosed amount

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NEW DELHI: Auto components maker Hero Motors Company on Monday said it has acquired a strategic stake in UK-based transmission design technology firm, Hewland Engineering for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will enable the company to create a competitive single source entity to design and manufacture high-quality transmission products, particularly in the emerging EV segment, to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) across North America, Europe and India, Hero Motors Company (HMC) said in a statement.

Besides, it will give HMC access to Hewland’s established motorsport customer base in the UK, while enabling the latter to further strengthen its product and service portfolio – particularly in the area of transmissions for electrified passenger cars – and aggressively pursue opportunities among global OEMs and Tier One suppliers, it added.

Commenting on the acquisition, HMC Chairman and Managing Director Pankaj M Munjal said: “This investment represents a significant strategic inflection point for us in the transmission product segment. By combining Hewland’s comprehensive design and analysis capabilities with our ability to support high-volume manufacturing we are strongly positioned to offer full-stream transmission solutions to global OEMs and Tier One suppliers.”

Munjal further said: “We are continuing to invest in the UK, as it is a significant hub for our EV- and cycle-focused activities in particular, as well as for Hewland’s established motorsport customer base.”

Hewland Engineering Chairman William Hewland said over the last 10 years Hewland has built significant strengths in transmission design and manufacture, full structural and gear-train analysis and efficiency modelling capabilities for internal combustion-engine cars and, increasingly, for electrified vehicles.

“This new collaboration with Hero Motors provides a capital infusion that will help us execute our strategic growth initiatives, as well as enhance our capabilities and presence within the EV market,” he added.

Hewland further said, “In close collaboration with Hero Motors we will be a highly competitive single source for full programme delivery – from transmission design through to high-volume manufacture – for customers across North America, Europe and India.”


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