Just over an hour ago, California automaker Tesla Motors announced that it is recalling the Tesla Model X electric SUV to replace a faulty latch on the third-row seat which could fail during a frontal collision, causing the seat to collapse under the weight of a passenger.
As Automotive News (subscription required) reports, Tesla notified affected customers this morning of the recall via email, and will follow that up shortly with an official letter sent through the mail. The recall affects roughly 2,700 Tesla Model X crossover SUVs made between the start of production in late September last year and March 26, 2016 and involves defective seat latches made by Australian automotive parts supplier Futuris Group.
Tesla first became aware of the issue during preparatory internal testing to validate the Model X ahead of its official launch in Europe. While undergoing in-house validation tests designed to replicate the official EuroNCAP crash tests that the Model X will need to pass in order to be approved for sale in Europe, Tesla reports one of the reclining third row seats on one Model X failed, causing the seat back to move during the simulated crash.
As Tesla notes in its official Model X recall email, the seat failure which prompted this recall only appears to have affected one car. Moreover, similar crash tests carried out prior to the start of deliveries in North America — totalling 15 confirmation tests without a single failure of the mechanism — suggest that a failure rate is reasonably low. To date, Tesla says it is not aware of any issues with any of the cars delivered, backing that hypothesis up further.
In keeping with Tesla’s attitude concerning safety recalls however, the firm says it will replace third-row seat backs on all 2,700 affected cars with a newly-designed seat back that is not at risk of suffering the same failure.
“We’ve had no issues with failures in the field,” Jon McNeil, head of global sales and service at Tesla, told reporters today. “But consistent with Tesla’s approach, we’re erring on the side of putting our customers’ safety first.”
Tesla says that it has already worked with its supplier to develop a new recliner system with improved design that has successfully resolved the issue, and is in the process of constructing new third-row seat backs to match each and every Tesla Model X affected by the recall. Over the coming weeks, it will contact all owners to arrange for the new seatbacks to be fitted at a date and time convenient to the customer. Based on production schedules, Tesla says it hopes to have completed both manufacture and fitment of all seat backs within the next five weeks.
While Tesla has not been able to replicate this one failure during testing, it is asking customers to refrain from using their third-row Model X seats until the replacement seat backs have been fitted. While this will turn customers’ cars into a four-seat or five-seat SUV for a short period of time, Tesla says that customer safety is of paramount importance.
We’ll keep you posted of this recall in the coming days, but in the meantime we’re curious to hear from any Model X owners who are affected by the recall in the Comments section. Those who are curious as to the content of the recall notice can read it in full below.
Model X customer email
We are emailing to inform you of a proactive action Tesla is taking to ensure your safety as a Model X owner. Tesla’s internally conducted crash testing demonstrates that Model X will be the first SUV to receive the highest safety rating in every category, and we are committed to ensuring that it remains the safest SUV in the world.
Recently, during an internal seat strength test that was conducted prior to the start of Model X deliveries in Europe, the recliner in a third row Model X seat unexpectedly slipped. The recliner, which is provided to us by an outside supplier, is the locking hinge that allows the third row seat back to fold forward, and if a recliner were to slip during a crash, the seat back could move forward. Similar testing was conducted before the start of deliveries in North America, with 15 confirmation tests having been conducted without a single recliner failure. Despite these prior successful tests and no reports of a third row seat slipping in any customer vehicles, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure and will be replacing all affected third row seat backs.
Our records show that you own a Model X affected by this voluntary recall. We will shortly send you an official recall notice by mail, but we wanted to alert you to this action as soon as possible.
A fix to this issue is already in place. We have worked with our supplier to develop a new recliner design with improved quality that resolved the issue. We are now constructing new third row seat backs to match all affected vehicles. Your service center will contact you to schedule the installation of your replacement seat backs as soon as they are available. Based on current production rates, we expect all replacements to be completed on a rolling basis over the next five weeks. We will accelerate this timing if possible.
Until the recall is performed, you may make full use of your Model X, although we ask that you temporarily not have anyone sit in the third row seats while the car is in use. We recognize that not having the use of your third row seats for the next few weeks will be an inconvenience, but your safety is our primary concern. We assure you that we are building your new seat backs as fast as we can.
Thank you for being a Tesla customer. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone at 844-248-3752 or by email at ServiceHelpNA@teslamotors.com. We apologize for this inconvenience.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.