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Tesla pushes back on China's recall

by Gill D on October 27, 2020

Tesla is challenging a recall of nearly 30,000 of its American-made Model S and Model X that were imported into China. There were claims about faulty vehicle suspensions cars produced between September 2013 and January 2018, that were then imported into China.

The recall was lodged by Tesla Beijing with China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR). The recall claims you could see the ball studs of the rear connecting rod of the front suspension crack during a large external impact, and you could see the upper connecting rod of the rear suspension deformed or weakened in an accident.

The recall notice contacted owners of the affected vehicles to arrange for replacement parts free of charge. Tesla has disputed the number of cars, as well as the recall.

Tesla’s managing counsel for regulatory affairs, Elizabeth H. Mykytiuk, sent a letter to the North America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),  regarding the recall in China.

“Due to the opinion of SAMR/DPAC that the topic required a recall in the China market, Tesla was left with the choice of either voluntarily recalling the subject vehicles or carrying a heavy burden through the Chinese administrative process. While Tesla disagrees with the opinion of SAMR/DPAC, the Company has decided not to dispute a recall for the China market only.”

Tesla however puts the blame on the drivers:

“Tesla has not determined that a defect exists in either the Front Suspension Aft Link or the Rear Suspension Upper Link and believes the root cause of the issue is driver abuse, including that driver usage and expectation for damageability is uniquely severe in the China market. If the customer inputs an abuse load (e.g., curb impact, severe pothole strike, etc.), then the parts may be damaged, leading either to immediate failure or delayed failure from the compounding effects of the initial abuse and subsequent load input.”

Back in 2016, NHTSA investigated a potential issue in Tesla’s Model S and Model X suspension and no defect was found. It is strange to note that the only affected Model S and Model X vehicles were those sent to China between 2013 and 2017 even though those model were manufactured in the United States. Additionally, Tesla has used the same suspension for its vehicles produced during that period.

Tesla says the occurrence of such a component failure is extremely rare but conceded it was higher in China than anywhere else in the world. The EV manufacturer agreed to have the recall proceed, but determined the amount of vehicles affected by the recall was 18,182 and not sitting near the 30,000 mark. This only affected Model X and Model S cars manufactured in the United States but registered in China.

The recall is only in China and Tesla explained it has no intention of conducting a recall outside of China because the EV company found there is defect in the components and there is no associated safety risk factors.

Reacting to a recall notice of one’s car is not a great thing to happen but should be taken seriously. Never let a recall notice slide. They are issued for a reason and not fulfilling them could see drivers and passengers injured or killed. Typically, car manufacturers will notify those affected by the recall via mail, and they will offer to perform the recall free of charge at your closest dealer or service center. 

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