Tesla recalls 1.6 million vehicles in China to fix steering and door latch problems

Company will use over-the-air software updates on the affected Model S, X, 3 and Y electric vehicles

A Tesla dealership in Beijing. In 2022, Tesla also had recall almost 128,000 cars in China because of a defect in their rear motor inverters. Reuters
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Tesla Motors has recalled more than 1.6 million vehicles in China to fix automatic driver-assistance steering and door latch controls, the country's market regulator said.

The move affects the Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles, and they will be fixed using over-the-air software updates, the State Administration for Market Regulation said.

A total of 1,610,105 imported Tesla vehicles have been recalled for the steering issue.

“When the automatic assisted steering function is turned on, the driver may misuse the level 2 combined driving assistance function, increasing the risk of vehicle collision and posing safety risks,” the SAMR said on its website.

The door latch issue, meanwhile, covers 7,538 imported Model S and X cars with production dates between October 26, 2022, and November 16, 2023, it said.

“In the event of a collision, the non-collision side door latch may detach from the latch, leaving the door in an unlocked state, posing a safety hazard,” the SAMR said.

The recall is the biggest in China, one of the Texas-based company's most important markets, and covers majority if not practically all of the vehicles it has sold in the country with the world's second-largest economy, according to calculations from Bloomberg and the New York Times.

In 2022, Tesla also had to recall almost 128,000 cars in China because of a defect in their rear motor inverters.

Last month, the company was forced to recall nearly every vehicle – more than two million – it has sold in the US because of safety concerns, also over its Autopilot feature.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice that Tesla's Autosteer feature “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse”.

The recall included the 2017-2023 Model 3, 2012-2023 Model S, 2016-2023 Model X and the 2020-2023 Model Y.

Other recalls within the past two years include in February last year for its vehicles' inadequate adherence to traffic safety laws, in November 2022 for the potential loss of power steering and in September 2022 for a glitch with windows. All of these recalls were in the US.

Tesla also has to deal with the fallout from losing its crown as the world's biggest electric vehicle manufacturer after China's BYD overtook it in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Shenzhen-based BYD sold 526,409 EVs in the three months to the end of December, well above Tesla's 484,507 which was even a 20 per cent annual increase.

Tesla has yet to release a statement regarding the newest recall in China.

The SAMR said Tesla's offices in Shanghai and Beijing will car owners affected by the recall. For both the steering and door latch issues, Tesla will be upgrading the vehicles' software remotely, the SAMR said.

“This recall will be implemented in stages, and users can complete the software upgrade without going to the store,” the SAMR said.

“Users are advised to drive the vehicle with caution before the vehicle recall is implemented; after receiving the recall software update notification, upgrade the vehicle software as soon as possible.”

Updated: January 07, 2024, 4:52 AM