DO NOT DRIVE: Millions Recalled

Tesla, the leading electric vehicle company globally, led by Elon Musk, has announced its largest recall to date, affecting over 2 million vehicles in the United States. The recall is aimed at addressing a significant flaw in the company’s “Autopilot” assisted-driving system. This move coincides with an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into crashes linked to Autopilot, including a fatal crash in Virginia last July where the system was in use.

The NHTSA has been investigating 956 crashes potentially related to Autopilot over the past two years. Their findings indicate that the existing safety measures may not be sufficient to prevent misuse of the software. Specific scenarios were identified where the risk of a crash could increase if Autosteer is activated without proper driver control or intervention.

To address this, Tesla plans to release an over-the-air software update, beginning on Tuesday or shortly after. This update will affect models including the Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y, some dating back to 2012. The update aims to enhance controls and alerts to ensure driver focus and attentiveness when using Autopilot, such as keeping both hands on the steering wheel and remaining vigilant on the road.

Tesla’s stock initially dipped following the recall announcement but recovered to close up by 1%.

Further highlighting the issue was a fatal crash in Virginia involving a Tesla on Autopilot and a tractor-trailer. The victim, Pablo Teodoro III, aged 57, was reportedly speeding before the crash. The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office noted that Teodoro appeared to have taken some action just before the incident, though details are not fully clear. The vehicle’s system detected an obstruction and issued alerts. The NHTSA is continuing its inquiry into this crash.

This recall follows investigative reports by The Washington Post, claiming Tesla allowed Autopilot use under conditions it wasn’t designed for, like on hilly or sharply curved roads. The Post linked the software to at least eight serious or fatal accidents in such conditions.

Tesla has defended Autopilot’s safety, presenting data comparing safety with the software engaged versus disengaged. The company reiterated its commitment to enhancing safety systems, in line with its ethical responsibilities.

Elon Musk has been a strong advocate for Autopilot’s safety, considering the development of assisted and fully-automated driving features vital to Tesla’s innovation and future.