The NHTSA has a period of 120 days to respond to claims for defects. It is said that the Agency does not comply with this deadline most of the time, but it took exactly 38 days for this deadline to be met.
Attorney Edward C. Chen sent his request to NHTSA on September 17, and the answer came NHTSA has decided to investigate the battery safety of Model S and Model X, which are covered by software updates 2019.16.1 and 2019.16 .2 are affected. Tesla is accused of using it to mask security risks such as spontaneous fires.
decided to ask the agency to investigate. Rasmussen was one of the owners who lost 12% coverage after the May updates. He told us he had spent months trying to get friendly explanations from Tesla. Since he had not received a satisfactory, he sued the company on 7 August.
Chen said in his Defect Petition:
Tesla uses wireless software updates to mask a potential problem and cover up the widespread and dangerous battery problem in their vehicles.
With the decision to investigate, NHTSA takes "this seriously," as David Rasmussen warned us against the Agency's reaction. Now it has to be determined whether the range reduction was a way to avoid fires, or just "a software update that extends the life of the battery," as Tesla claims.
To this end, NHTSA requested from Tesla a comprehensive documentation in nine subject areas This shows how deeply the agency wants to dive into the issue.
In short, information is needed on all the cars the company has been selling or leasing in the US so far – including warranty periods and if they have superchargers for free. The exception is the model S, which caught fire in Shanghai and possibly caused the update.
The second step relates to all situations in which these vehicles caused "property damage, fire, injury or death". The NHTSA asks for reports on complaints, pre-litigation and complaints regarding such scenarios.
All these cases must be reported in a Microsoft Access file with all the information the cars involved may have. Point 3 may bring the most relevant inquiry for the investigation. It is asked if Tesla has investigated these situations and what conclusions Tesla has drawn for the causes.
Topic 5 requires information on all updates as of January 1, 2017, referring to "Charge Rate, Charge Capacity, or Battery Thermal Management During or" after charging. "NHTSA requests descriptions of the updates and reasons for these.
Topic 6 covers all Tesla's analysis and testing in terms of charge and battery life. Point 7 specifically asks about fire events that are related to the defect petition. Point 8 shows that NHTSA knows what to look for in electric cars by asking about dendrite growth and cell short circuits. Finally, the NHTSA wants to know which vehicles have received 2019.16.1 and 2019.16.2 software updates and when.
Tesla has to submit all documents by November 28, 2019, under sanction of civil sanctions, which may range from $ 22,329 a day to $ 111,642,265. Not answering is not an option in this case.
After receiving all the required information, NHTSA conducts an investigation to determine if Tesla should recall the vehicles. This could result in a fire hazard or if the update was actually intended to extend the life of the batteries. Tesla may also decide to do so voluntarily.
In 2018 the New York Times published an article on Defective Petitions. The article states that by then, 43 of them had registered with the NHTSA, including the one that led to the recall of Ford Pinto. Of these, 12 resulted in recalls or extended warranty periods. We have no idea how many NHTSA have been accepted for investigation. Whatever the number was, it has just increased.
What about the lawsuit?
While NHTSA waits for the documents, Tesla had until November 3 to answer the court. It has commissioned the law firm Morrison Foerster to defend itself.
After Tesla had officially announced that they would return the reach to affected customers, we asked Rasmussen if he noticed any improvements.
"The day after the filing of the When Tesla said they would regain lost reach, I got 10 miles back from the 30 miles they had taken."
He was kind enough to update them The artwork we had already published – the first one above. But has the improvement persuaded Rasmussen to give up the lawsuit? The answer is that he hired the law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein to help Chen.
We see a battle of the legal giants on the horizon. Not only because there is a suspicion of battery fire, but also because the lawsuit is debating whether or not Tesla can make changes to its products without the owner's permission.
Perhaps noble to protect the battery even when it is no longer under warranty, but at what price? If there was no security risk, would customers choose a longer life battery to reduce range by 12 percent or the same? Why do not you have the choice?
If Tesla cares so much about protecting its customers' assets, why did it refuse to repair Models 3 with defective paints that still have a warranty? Why are only the visible parts of the vehicle primed? MCUv1 units that fail due to excessive logging must also be replaced, preferably under warranty. Or you may have upgraded to MCUv2, as Elon Musk promised in March 2018, and will still have to serve at least 4,910 customers who signed a petition for it.