Tesla issues safety recall for Model X: Back seats could fold forward in a sudden stop


Only months after delivering the first units of its Model X, Tesla Motors has issued a voluntary safety recall for its heralded “falcon wing” SUV.

The third-row seats in the seven-seat vehicle, Tesla said, were built with latches that failed under safety testing. On about 2,700 Model Xs, the seats could fold forward unexpectedly during a crash or sudden stop.

Company representatives on Monday were quick to stress that they have had no reports of injuries, nor any complaints from owners.


“We have had no issues with any vehicle in the field,” said Jon McNeil, Tesla’s president of sales and service. “But consistent with Tesla’s approach we are erring on the side of putting our customers’ safety first.”

Tesla said the recall pertains only to vehicles built before March 26. The seat latch failure was discovered during testing in Europe, prior to vehicles being delivered there.

That was after the part passed 15 strength tests in the U.S. McNeil said that European Union tests are more “stringent,” and exposed a manufacturing flaw in the seat latch.

The recall affects almost all of the Model Xs currently in consumers’ driveways, but not those built after March 26. Tesla declined to say how many cars, after the 2,700, were not affected by the recall.

Attempting to reassure its customers -- most of whom paid well above the Model X $80,000 base price for their vehicles -- the company sent emails telling them about the problem.

“We are emailing to inform you of a proactive action Tesla is taking to ensure your safety as a Model X owner,” the email said in part. “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.”

The rear seats will be replaced at no cost to customers, the company said, and at no cost to Tesla. The company has determined the failure to be a manufacturing flaw on the part of an outside supplier, Futuris -- a Long Beach-based designer and builder of automobile seats.

Tesla said owners of the affected vehicles would be contacted directly, and invited to bring their SUVs to service centers for a two-hour procedure to replace the seats.

Company representatives insisted the problem -- which will be reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration -- will not affect production schedules for the Model X.

The much-admired SUV experienced multiple difficulties and shipments of the vehicle had been delayed more than a year.

This is the Palo Alto-based Tesla’s fifth safety recall. To date, the company has issued three similar notifications on the Model S -- one for seat belts, one for seats, and one for a charging adaptor. The company had earlier issued a recall on its first car, the Roadster, which is no longer in production.

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