Democrats call for Elon Musk’s Tesla to recall parts that pose a ‘safety risk’

Two Democratic senators call on Tesla CEO Elon Musk to ensure the recall of all “high-risk cars” following a series of alleged safety flaws. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) fired off a letter to Mr. Musk on Dec. 27, citing concerns about the steering control and suspension in some Tesla vehicles that were recalled in China in 2020. The letter follows a report by Reuters last week, claiming the company had known about chronic “flaws” and “failures” in some of its vehicles for years—including issues with steering control and suspension caused by defective parts—but had concealed the causes of the flaws from U.S. regulators and the public.

The report, which cited internal documents and interviews with former Tesla managers or service technicians, also found that Tesla has sought to shift some of the blame and resulting repair costs onto customers, blaming the failures on alleged driver “abuse” or “misuse,” such as “hitting a curb or other excessive strong impact.” Tesla denied the claims made in the report.

“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 (NHTSA),” the senators began their letter. “This reporting puts your statement from January that ‘Teslas are the safest car on the road’ at stark contrast with reality.”

“We call on you to swiftly recall all Tesla components that pose a safety risk and correct the record with NHTSA to ensure it can properly do its job,” they said.

Tesla Recalls Vehicles in China
In 2020, Tesla wrote to NHTSA explaining that it would recall a front suspension part called the aft link and a rear suspension part called the upper link in China, suggesting the company was aware of the flaws in the vehicles, according to the two lawmakers. Still, the EV maker has not issued a similar recall in the United States or other countries. The lawmakers say this puts “countless Americans and others on the road at undue risk.”

“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,” they wrote.

“In light of these apparent false and misleading representations, we demand that you correct the record in every respect and that you commit to providing accurate and truthful statements in the future,” the senators continued.

“The credibility and reputation of your company is at stake — and even more importantly, the safety of motorists and others on the roads,” they concluded. Response to Media Report
Tesla has not yet responded to the letter from senators Markey and Blumenthal. However, the company criticized the Reuters report for having “wildly misleading headline” and for being “riddled with incomplete and demonstrably incorrect information.”

“This latest piece vaguely and nonsensically suggests there are thousands upon thousands of disgruntled Tesla customers. It’s nonsensical because it’s nonfactual—the reality is Tesla’s customer retention is among the best and highest in the industry,” the company said in a statement on X.

“Tesla has the most advanced vehicle telemetry system that can identify emerging issues, determine scope, and allow for faster vehicle and service improvements than has ever been seen in the auto industry,” the company said.

“We take action as soon as we see a problem, something that should be celebrated as best-in-class, and is often cited by our regulators as a major safety advantage.”

The vehicle maker also said the Reuters report had conflated a noise-related, non-safety issue with a “range of unrelated and disconnected service actions.”

“Contrary to the article’s statements based on erroneous data, Tesla is truthful and transparent with our safety regulators around the globe and any insinuation otherwise is plain wrong,” the EV maker concluded.

Earlier this month, Tesla recalled just over two million vehicles in the United States fitted with its autopilot advanced driver-assistance system to fix an issue with its software. The recall followed a two-year investigation by NHTSA into a number of crashes that happened while the autopilot partially automated driving system was in use.

Earlier this year, Tesla also recalled nearly 16,000 of its 2021–2023 Model S and Model X vehicles so that it could inspect some front-row seat belts, which it said may not have been reconnected sufficiently after being repaired.

Despite the latest various recalls—the majority of which are generally fixed through software updates—Tesla recalls are still significantly down year over year, according to reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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