Tesla Stock Falls as Regulators Ask for 158,000 Vehicles to be Recalled

By Adriaan Brits Thursday, January 14, 2021

Tesla has been asked by car-safety regulators to recall 158,000 vehicles over faulty touchscreen displays, following a months-long investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Safety Issues

In a letter published last night, the Administration argues that the electric car maker’s faulty media control unit (MCU) causes touchscreen displays to stop working.

Accordingly, this is a safety issue as other functions — the backup camera and defogging and defrosting setting units — are also affected. Moreover, audible chimes are also impacted as they are used upon the activation of the turn signal indicator to inform drivers when the car’s Autopilot advanced driver assistance system is activated.

“As discussed more fully below, ODI has tentatively concluded that the failure of the media control unit (MCU) constitutes a defect related to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, ODI requests that Tesla initiate a recall to notify all owners, purchasers, and dealers of the subject vehicles of this safety defect and provide a remedy, in accordance with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act,” it is said in the letter.

The investigation found that the failure occurs when the memory storage in a flash drive used in these cars reaches capacity. Replacing the hardware unit appeared to be the only solution to the issue and vehicles affected by this problem include the company’s Model S sedans manufactured between 2012 and 2018 and Model X SUVs built between 2016 and 2018.

The company’s faulty vehicles come with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor that has an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory unit. A portion of this flash drive is used each time the car is started and the unit fails once the storage capacity is reached, causing the media control unit to fail, according to the agency.

While Tesla refused to comment on the matter, the carmaker has already provided some information to NHTSA. The electric car maker admitted that all of the media storage units found in these vehicles are likely to fail due to limited storage capacity.

The company released its statistical report where it showed the number of estimated weekly MCU repairs from 2020 to 2028. Tesla projected that the number of replacements for MCU failures will be the highest in early 2022 and gradually drop until (near) full part turnover has been completed in 2028.

Tesla stock price is trading over 1% lower today on the NHTSA report.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has asked Tesla to recall 158,000 vehicles due to faulty media control units that cause touchscreen displays to stop working.

About the Author

Headshot for author Adriaan Brits
As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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