Recall Alert: Tesla Model X Electric SUV Recalled After Third-Row Seat Failed Internal Crash Tests Ahead of European Launch

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 is recalling all 2,700 Model X electric SUVs made between September 2015 and March 26, 2016.

Tesla is recalling all 2,700 Model X electric SUVs made between September 2015 and March 26, 2016.

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.

Tesla is asking customers not to use the third-row seats until replacement seat backs have been fitted.

Tesla is asking customers not to use the third-row seats until replacement seat backs have been fitted.

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 [email protected]. We apologize for this inconvenience.



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  • Joseph Dubeau

    At this rate, I guess those Model 3 reservation holders will see their car in 2020.

    • Joe Viocoe

      This will certainly delay the Model 3 versions with the 3rd row seat. Oh wait… you didn’t even read the article, yet are looking for any opportunity to express tired theory, no matter how irrelevant to the topic.

      • Joseph Dubeau

        It’s pretty obvious they having problem with production.
        Oh but wait, you knew that.
        It sure is funny how you bash all the other EV and same time bent over backwards to cover to Tesla as if you paid.
        LG Chem is opening a new factory in Europe and there is nothing you can do about it. How terrible is must be for you.
        Yet another theory your of blown out to water.

        • Joe Viocoe

          Haha… tell me which other EV that I’ve bashed.
          And I’ll tell you that I own a GM PHEV using those same LG Chem batteries.
          Yes, I’ve put my $1k where my mouth is… even though I own a Volt.

          It isn’t a theory, it is a fact that LG Chem is in 3rd place, and makes about 3 times less EV batteries per kwh than Panasonic… so they have a lot farther to got, to reach the scale they need for a 60 kwh Bolt.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            2016 Tesla Model X electric SUV: so about those falcon doors …

            “Owners also complained of build-quality issues, including poorly-aligned panels, gaps in molding and—in one case—a gap in the door jamb that appeared to be filled with putty.
            Michael Karpf told the magazine that the driver’s door on his Model X would sometimes fail to open,
            and that the window wouldn’t open properly because it kept getting caught in a piece of chrome trim.
            That wasn’t all, though. One of the rear falcon doors on Karpf’s car initially refused to close,
            and then on another occasion banged into an overhang.”


          • Joe Viocoe

            This comment has nothing to do with this thread.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            They barely got out 50,000 out the door last year.
            They are having problems scaling up production.

          • Joe Viocoe

            Again… you are coming off as desperate for Tesla bashing, bringing this completely off topic thread here.

            Go comment on that article.