On Monday, Tesla announced that it is recalling about 2,700 Model X SUVs in the United States because the vehicle’s third-row seats could fail in a crash.
“We’re doing this out of an abundance of safety for customers,” said Jon McNeil, Tesla’s president of sales, service, and delivery, in a conference call with reporters
Tesla sent an email to owners of affected Model X’s, a crossover SUV that launched last year and the features exotic “falcon wing” doors and what the company has described as “sculptural” rear seats.
“Until the recall is performed, you may make full use of your Model X, although we ask that you temporarily not have anyone sit in the third row seats while the car is in use,” Tesla said in the email.
“We recognise that not having the use of your third row seats for the next few weeks will be an inconvenience, but your safety is our primary concern. We assure you that we are building your new seat backs as fast as we can.”
The third-row seats are supplied by Futuris, an Australian firm that in 2014 opened a facility in California, near Tesla’s Fremont factory. Futuris was supplying seating for Model X, but problems with the second-row seats led Tesla to bring the manufacturing of that component in-house last year.
According to McNeil, however, Tesla and Futuris continue to maintain a business relationship. Futuris worked with Tesla to correct what McNeil characterised as a “manufacturing flaw” that affected all Model X’s produced before March 26. He added that the repair, which will involve two hours at a Tesla service center and be paid for by Futuris, hasn’t affected ongoing Model X production.
This recall follows an earlier voluntary recall of the entire fleet of Model S sedans worldwide, for a seat-belt problem. There had been two previous Model S recalls, one of which was for a software issue. This is the first Model X recall.
The problem with the Model X’s third-row seats was traced to a latch that could fail in a crash, causing seats to fold forward, potentially injuring passengers. Both third-row seats will be entirely replaced on affected vehicles. The failure was discovered after Tesla had successfully tested the strength of the the seats 15 times, meeting US government standards. A 16th test required for sales in the European Union turned up the fault.
McNeil said that no seat failures have been reported in the field. Model X SUVs manufactured after March 26 don’t have the problem.
Tesla is working through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the recall, but the company chose to inform its customers of the voluntary recall without being compelled to do so by the federal agency.
The company anticipates that the repair will take five weeks to execute on the affected Model X’s. Tesla doesn’t currently have enough replacement parts on hand to fix every vehicle covered by the recall, but it working with Futuris to obtain them and send them to service centres.