Tesla Recalls Chinese Exports to Fix Steering, Door Glitches

Over 1.6 Million EVs Affected by Recall
Tesla charging station
A Tesla charging station in Woodstock, Ga. (Mike Stewart/Associated Press)

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BEIJING — Tesla is recalling more than 1.6 million Model S, X, 3 and Y electric vehicles exported to China for problems with their automatic assisted steering and door latch controls.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation announced the recall Jan. 5. It said Tesla Motors in Beijing and Shanghai would use remote upgrades to fix the problems, so in most cases, car owners would not need to visit Tesla service centers.

The recall due to problems with the automatic steering assist function applies to 1.6 million imported Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Ys.

When the automatic steering function is engaged, drivers might misuse the combined driving function, increasing a risk of accidents, the notice said.

The recall to fix the door unlock logic control for imported Model S and Model X EVs affects 7,538 vehicles made between Oct. 26, 2022, and Nov. 16, 2023. It is needed to prevent door latches from coming open during a collision.

The recalls follow a recall in the U.S. last month of more than 2 million Tesla EVs to improve its system for monitoring drivers.

The recall followed a two-year investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found the system was defective. The agency looked into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The upgrades are intended to get drivers who use Tesla’s Autopilot system to pay closer attention to the road. Documents filed by Tesla to the U.S. government said the online software change will increase warnings and alerts to drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel.

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However, research conducted by NHTSA, the National Transportation Safety Board and other investigators show that merely measuring torque on the steering wheel doesn’t ensure that drivers are paying sufficient attention.

China is a major market and manufacturing center for Tesla, and company CEO Elon Musk has built close ties with Chinese officials even as U.S.-China relations soured. The company built an electric vehicle plant in Shanghai in 2019 that assembles cars for China, Europe and other overseas markets.

Tesla is the No. 2 seller in the booming Chinese market for electric vehicles. The market leader is Chinese auto company BYD Co.