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Tesla to Recall up to 36,126 Model S & Model X Vehicles in China to Replace Faulty Display Units

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【Summary】Electric automaker Tesla said it will recall up to 36,126 of its Model S and Model X vehicles, which were built in California and shipped to customers in China to address errors caused by the flash memory used in the embedded Multimedia Controller (eMMC) that powers the center-mounted dashboard display. Tesla acknowledged that all of the older memory control units (MCU's) and displays used in the earlier Model S and Model X will eventually fail.

FutureCar Staff    Feb 05, 2021 1:10 PM PT
Tesla to Recall up to 36,126 Model S & Model X Vehicles in China to Replace Faulty Display Units

Last month, electric automaker Tesla was pressured by the U.S. National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall vehicles for failing touchscreen displays caused by the flash memory control unit (MCU).

The preliminary request by the NHTSA provided Tesla with the opportunity to voluntarily recall the vehicles on its own before the auto safety agency issued a mandatory recall. But last week Tesla relented and said it will voluntarily recall around 135,000 vehicles in the U.S. to replace the center-mounted touchscreen displays. Now that same recall is being extended to U.S. built Tesla vehicles sold in China.

Tesla said it will recall up to 36,126 of its Model S and Model X vehicles, which were built in California and shipped to customers in China to address errors caused by the flash memory used in the embedded Multimedia Controller (eMMC) that powers the center-mounted dashboard display, Chinse news outlet Gasgoo reports.

The China State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced the recall on February 5. 

The problem is known as "memory wear out". The MCU that supports the touchscreen display uses an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device that's prone to read/write errors.

The errors appear after continuous "read/write" cycles to the NAND flash memory. Although inexpensive NAND flash memory is commonly used in a wide variety of consumer electronic devices, one drawback for use in vehicles is that it has a finite number of rear/write cycles, the NHTSA said.

Tesla owners reported erratic operation of the display, very slow response times, map rendering issues when using navigation, random reboots or a completely black screen. 

Tesla finally acknowledged that all of the older memory control units (MCU's) and displays used in the earlier Model S and Model X "will inevitably fail given the memory device's finite storage capacity."

Tesla Motors (Beijing) Co.,Ltd. said it will replace the 8GB eMMC with an updated version equipped with 64GB of error-correcting code (ECC) memory that offers memory failure protection. The repairs will be free for Tesla owners in China.

The initial probe in the U.S. was launched in June 2020 after the NHTSA said it reviewed 12,523 claims and complaints from Tesla owners about display problems and random reboots of the screen while driving.

Tesla vehicles are uniquely designed. Rather than having buttons or switches, the touchscreen display is used to access most of the vehicle's controls and accessories. It's used for entertainment, maps, navigation, wipers, rear backup camera, as well as the vehicle's heating and air conditioning controls, so these systems are not accessible if the display unit malfunctions while driving, which can pose a safety risk.

Tesla used the same MCU in Model S and Model X vehicles produced through early 2018. The memory wear out errors generally appear after about 3 to 4 years of use.

The latest recall is the third in China in the past several months. In October, Tesla announced it was recalling up to 48,442 of its Model S and Model X electric vehicles, manufactured in the U.S. and sold to customers in China, over potentially faulty and unsafe front and rear suspension components.

The SAMR ordered Tesla to replace the suspect front and rear suspension links with an improved design at no cost to owners. 

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