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Two U.S. senators call for Tesla recalls after Reuters investigation


Several Tesla electric vehicles are parked in front of a Tesla service center in the Kearny Mesa region, in San Diego, California, U.S., October 31, 2023. 

Abhirup Roy | Reuters

Two U.S. senators have written to Elon Musk, Tesla‘s top executive, calling on him to “swiftly” recall any steering and suspension parts that pose a safety risk.

The letter cites “an alarming” Reuters investigation published on December 20 that exposed how Tesla has blamed drivers for frequent failures of components it has long known were defective.

“We write with extreme concern following recent reporting about Tesla’s knowledge of safety flaws in its vehicles and concealment of the causes of these flaws from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” states the letter, which is signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, and Edward J. Markey, of Massachusetts.

The senators call on Musk to correct “apparent false and misleading representations” made to the safety agency.

The Reuters report found that Tesla told NHTSA and customers that the frequent failures of defective parts in its electric vehicles were caused by driver “abuse,” such as hitting a curb. In 2020, Tesla gave that explanation in a letter to the safety agency explaining why it would not recall a suspension part called the aft link in the United States, despite having just recalled it in China.

Tesla documents reviewed by Reuters show the automaker’s engineers for years tracked frequent failures of aft links and other suspension, steering and axle parts, often on relatively new cars. The company instructed its service managers to tell customers that the parts were not faulty as it struggled to contain soaring warranty costs, the records reviewed by Reuters show.

“We are disturbed that you would blame your customers for these failures,” stated the letter from Blumenthal and Markey, both Democrats. “It is unacceptable that Tesla would not only attempt to shift the responsibility for the substandard quality of its vehicles to the people purchasing them, but also make that same flawed argument to NHTSA.”

Musk and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the senators’ letter. Neither answered detailed questions from Reuters for the Dec. 20 investigation.

Sweden’s Transport Agency said on Friday that it’s investigating suspension failures in Tesla cars. The inquiry is similar to one being carried out in neighboring Norway, where the Norwegian Public Roads Administration said last week it was looking into consumer complaints about lower rear control arms breaking on its Model S and X vehicles.

Markey and Blumenthal have previously raised concerns about Tesla’s marketing practices and the safety of its automated driving technology.

In April, the senators wrote to Musk questioning him about another Reuters investigation, which reported that groups of Tesla employees had circulated, via an internal messaging system, private and sometimes highly invasive recordings from customers’ car cameras.

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