On Thursday Tesla had to issue a recall for nearly 363,000 of its electric vehicles. At issue is the company’s highly controversial “Full Self Driving” Beta, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes is dangerous.
NHTSA has four principal complaints with the driver-assistance system:
The FSD Beta system may allow the vehicle to act unsafe around intersections, such as traveling straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or proceeding into an intersection during a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution.
Additionally, NHTSA says that “the system may respond insufficiently to changes in posted speed limits or not adequately account for the driver’s adjustment of the vehicle’s speed to exceed posted speed limits.”
According to the timeline published by the nation’s auto safety regulator, NHTSA told Tesla on January 25 that it had four concerns about FSD Beta’s driving behavior and asked Tesla to issue a recall. After a couple of weeks of discussions, Tesla apparently did not concur with the agency but decided to issue a recall anyway, perhaps reading the writing on the wall.
The recall affects 2016-2023 Models S, 2016-2023 Models X, 2017-2023 Models 3, and 2020-2023 Models Y “that have installed or are pending installation of a software release that contains the Autosteer on City Streets feature.”
This is at least the second recall for FSB Beta; in November 2021 the OEM had to recall 11,706 EVs that had downloaded the then-current FSD Beta due to that version’s propensity to brake inappropriately, leading to multiple complaints.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said in the past that FSD is “make or break” for Tesla and that the feature is the difference between his company being “worth a lot of money or worth basically zero.”
Affected Tesla owners will be notified by mid-April, and the automaker will push out a new version of the software over the air, which it says will “improve how FSD Beta negotiates certain driving maneuvers during the conditions described above.”
This does not mark the end of Tesla’s driver-assist woes. NHTSA is continuing to investigate the less-capable but more ubiquitous Autopilot feature after 41 crashes since 2016, resulting in at least 19 deaths.