Tesla’s giant 1 million car recall is literally a feature update

The media is picking up what it is portraying as Tesla recalling over 1 million vehicles in China, but the so-called “recall” is literally a feature update.

There’s already a lot of debate about whether Tesla recalls that are done through over-the-air software updates should really be called “recalls.”

A reasonable argument could be made on each side, but this is something entirely different.

The media is reporting that Tesla is recalling over 1 million vehicles in China over a “defect related to regenerative braking.”

For example, here’s how Bloomberg is reporting on this issue:

However, this is only a recall in name as it is being reported by the State Administration for Market Regulation in China.

Here’s how it was communicated by Chinese regulators (translated from Chinese):

This recall was carried out when the State Administration for Market Regulation initiated a defect investigation. Affected by the investigation, Tesla Motors (Beijing) Co., Ltd. and Tesla (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. plan to use the vehicle remote upgrade ( OTA) technology to push newly developed functions for vehicles within the scope of the recall, so as to reduce the number of cases caused by long-term deep-dive problems. Depressing the accelerator pedal leads to a collision risk caused by excessive speed. Features include: (1) on vehicles that do not have a regenerative braking intensity selection, provide an option to allow the driver to select the regenerative braking intensity; (2) adjust the factory default state of the vehicle regenerative braking strategy. A reminder is issued when the driver depresses the accelerator pedal deeply for a long time. 

In fact, this is not really a recall, but it is going through the recall process in China because it is a new feature that directly affects how Tesla vehicles can be driven.

We reported on Tesla pushing this software update in North America last month. It is as simple as Tesla offering an option for lower regenerative braking in its settings. Hardly a recall.

Electrek’s Take

Shame on Bloomberg and other media for reporting this as a major recall when it’s literally a feature update.

I know a lot of Tesla fans will blame this on some media bias against Tesla, but I wouldn’t jump on some nefarious intention right away. It could just be incompetence.

To us, it was pretty clear because we already knew about this feature, but the mainstream media isn’t following that closely. So yes, there’s some bias that might have contributed to them jumping on this “bad news” for Tesla, but I think it’s mostly incompetence that led them to report it that way.

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