Tesla asked to recall vehicles over touchscreen safety issue

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked Tesla to recall about 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles due to an issue with the touchscreen that could cause it to fail, compromising the safety of those inside. The request follows as investigation by NHTSA that began last year.

A touchscreen failure results in the loss of the vehicle’s rearview/backup camera, and also impacts its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system. Various audible chimes linked to turn signals are also affected, and drivers are unable to use windshield defogging and defrosting systems, which may decrease the driver’s visibility in inclement weather, increasing the risk of a crash, according to a letter posted online by NHTSA on January 13.

NHTSA said it has “tentatively concluded” that a failure of the touchscreen “constitutes a defect related to motor vehicle safety” and therefore wants the electric car maker to recall affected vehicles.

These include Model S sedans model years 2012 through 2018, and Model X SUVs model years 2016 through 2018.

The government agency explains that the issue revolves around the touchscreen’s NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and its integrated 8GB flash memory chip, which can fail when it reaches capacity, usually after about five or six years with average use, according to NHTSA.

It adds that Tesla attempted to resolve the issue with a number of over-the-air updates, but described them as “substantively insufficient.”

As of July of last year, Tesla data showed touchscreen failure rates of up to 17.3% for the impacted Model S vehicles, and up to 4.1% for the Model X vehicles. NHTSA said it believes the failure rates will continue to rise, as shown in Tesla’s projection models.

The electric car maker has until January 27 to respond to NHTSA’s request, and must provide “a full explanation of its decision” if it does not agree with the recall request.

Digital Trends has reached out to Tesla for comment and we will update this article when we receive a response.

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