A driver uses the map navigation feature on a touchscreen control panel with Tesla Motors Inc. software update 8.0 in a Tesla Model S P90D vehicle.
Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A major Tesla recall in the US has now expanded to China. This emerges from a new application for approval from the Chinese state administration for market regulation.
Filing states that Elon Musk’s electric car company will recall up to 36,126 Model S and X vehicles in China due to touchscreen errors. The cars were manufactured by Tesla in Fremont, California between 2013 and 2018 and exported to China.
Gasgoo, a Chinese auto trade news site, first reported on the filings.
Tesla electric vehicles have a media control unit (MCU) that powers a touchscreen that allows drivers to see and control their entertainment, navigation, air conditioning, defrost and other vehicle functions.
The MCU contains a number of processors, storage devices, and other technical components. The storage devices in some Tesla MCUs have a finite “write cycle” which means that they will not work well or not at all after they have reached 3,000 program erase cycles.
If the storage devices fail, owners can experience disruptive touchscreen power outages while driving and lose access to controls they need to feel safe on the road or when parking. Sometimes drivers can reboot their systems, but others completely lose access to the display and touchscreen controls.
Tesla initially introduced a “warranty extension” in the US to reimburse customers who had paid out of their own pocket for the replacement of their media control devices or the eMMC storage devices contained therein. Later, under pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla conducted a voluntary recall in the United States.
The Federal Motor Transport Authority examines Tesla vehicles because of the same touchscreen failures.
Last fall, Tesla recalled up to 48,442 S and X vehicles in China due to suspension problems and around 870 vehicles with possibly defective roofs.
Tesla’s touchscreen recall in the US affects approximately 135,000 vehicles. In both China and the US, Tesla has agreed to replace the 8 GB eMMC storage devices in the media control devices with a 64 GB version.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China is a lucrative market for Tesla and for manufacturers of electric vehicles in general. The company began production at its relatively new Shanghai facility in January last year, the first outside the US.
According to JL Warren Capital, Tesla’s market share in the New Energy Vehicle category in China was around 12% last year – meaning their cars are incredibly popular, especially given that car buyers in China are more price sensitive than in the US . In 2020 and 2019, the Chinese government spent 11.3 billion yuan ($ 1.7 billion) and 14.4 billion yuan ($ 2.2 billion) to subsidize the electric vehicle industry, and Tesla did about 25% of the total subsidy.