Are Over-The-Air Recalls The Way Of The Future?

Executives at Tesla Motors announced one of the first big recalls by the electric car company and, in so doing, appear to have started what many experts believe will be a trend that other car companies will likely copy. Tesla announced that it would be “recalling” more than 29,000 of its 2013 Model S vehicles due to a problem with the power adapter.

Tesla-Motors-logoThe company said that the adapter could overheat while charging the vehicle, something that could lead to car fires. So far, no fires have occurred and the company wants to ensure that none do, which is why it took the step of acting early and revealing the trouble. However, Tesla will not handle the recall in the way that other car companies typically do.

By way of comparison, GM announced its own recall this week, impacting almost 400,000 of its trucks. Owners of the Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra will need to bring their vehicles into local dealerships that will perform the necessary software update to fix the problem. In Tesla’s case, with the company facing a very similar issue, owners need not take their cars anywhere. That’s because Tesla will be sending the software update electronically to its customers.

Tesla says that about 99 percent of the impacted Model S adapters have already received the over-the-air software update and that the issue had been resolved. The remaining owners would soon be sent the same update, with the internet-connected vehicles basically acting as their own mechanics.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, says that his company’s novel approach for handling automotive issues amounts to a re-imagining of what a recall really is. Rather than burden owners with the task of finding time to schedule an appointment and then contend with being without their cars, a simple over-the-air update can be sent out to solve the problem. Musk said that in his opinion, “The word ‘recall’ needs to be recalled.”

Tesla has used the over-the-air update approach once before, last year when several reports of the Model S catching fire after striking objects in the road made headlines. Tesla officials considered the matter and wrote a software update that alters the settings of the vehicles’ suspension, allowing the car to ride higher when moving at high speeds.

Though some in the industry say the over-the-air recalls will become more common, they caution that there are potential worries. For one thing, some problems cannot be fully addressed with an Internet update. Physical problems or even some complicated software issues might require in-person contact with a trained mechanic. Additionally, the over-the-air updates need to be done safely. After all, if Tesla has electronic access to the sensitive computers that control how cars operate, it is possible that others, especially hackers, could gain similar control and wreak havoc.

If you or someone you know have been injured by a defective product and you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, please contact the Georgia product liability litigation attorneys at Pope McGlamry P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.

Source: “Tesla Motors’ Over-the-Air Repairs Are the Way Forward,” by Kevin Bullis, published at

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