Tesla attempts to skirt recall by saying that car CPUs are wear items
If the car's computers are just like the brakes, lights, windshield wipers, and tires... where does this end?! This might be a slippery slope!
Martin Katler @martinkatler
The epic Greek mythological saga crossed with a Monday night sitcom - also known as Tesla - has gotten even better. They're now arguing with the NHTSA, regarding a requested recall, that their computers are wear items?! Think of all the items a dealer doesn't cover due to wear (think brakes, tires, windshield wipers, lights, damage to windshields, etc.) and then try to justify computers under this same doctrine. It sounds insane, but once you dig into it, they might be onto something.
The issue at hand is the Tesla MCU (media control unit) in the 2012-18 Model S and 2016-18 Model X. This computer controls the rearview camera, Autopilot, defogging, and proper function of the turn signals. This one computer is not a safety item nor should it last the lifetime of the vehicle - that is according to Tesla and specifically in a letter from Al Prescott with their Legal department.
Taneli Lahtinen @tanelah
Tesla "respectfully disagrees" (legal parlance for go f^&k yourself) with the NHTSA recommendation to recall all vehicles with the issue and provide a remedy (replace the part and if you're wanting to really geek out on the details there is an excellent article here). Where I think Tesla might be onto something is with the function of the computer itself. Do you need Autopilot? A window defogger? Certainly not a rearview camera? Turn signals... ehhh that's where it might get a bit blurry.
Bram Van Oost @ort
Now Tesla says they will comply with the recommendation, in the "spirit of cooperation" (more legal parlance for 'I hate working with you, but I need this money') with a recall, even if they don't agree. They will have a "voluntary recall and provide a free hardware remedy in addition to over-the-air firmware updates we have already implemented" according to the letter. The letter goes on to justify their disagreements and call the NTHSA an agency with "anachronistic regulations" - which is basically the same as telling the NTHSA 'fu^* you and the horse you rode in on'.
I'm frankly not surprised, as the world we're building won't have cars that need much maintenance. Other than wear items, your electric car won't need much dealer service. All the software gets updated via the world-wide-web and the brakes aren't used because of one-pedal driving and even the darned thing doesn't need oil. Tesla might be trying to set a precedence with their EVs as they really aren't the same as the dino-burning brethren.
Companies like Ford and GM wouldn't hesitate much to replace a part like the MCU. With all the issues they've had over the years their PR Department would want to get the jump on any negative press. I'm willing to bet the Tesla PR Department... oh that's right... nevermind.