Tesla recalls more than 50,000 cars over faulty brakes

A Tesla Model S P85d car at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition
A Tesla Model S P85d car at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition Credit: AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELEJOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla has recalled nearly two-thirds of the vehicles it made last year to replace faulty electronic parking brakes that may not release properly.

About 53,000 Model S and Model X vehicles assembled between February and October last year contain a small gear that could have been manufactured improperly by a Tesla supplier, the company said. If that gear were to break, the parking brake could become stuck in place.

“While less than 5pc of the vehicles being recalled may be affected by this issue, we are recalling 53,000 vehicles total out of an abundance of caution,” Tesla said. “Because of the design of the gear, it is difficult to tell exactly which vehicles are affected.”

The recall covers around 63pc of the roughly 84,000 vehicles Tesla manufactured last year. Overall, car makers recalled more than 53m vehicles in the US in 2016, making it the third-straight year of record vehicle callbacks.

Tesla boss Elon Musk Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

The recall comes as Tesla faces renewed scrutiny as chief executive Elon Musk prepares for a dramatic expansion in manufacturing scale to support the Model 3, its most affordable car. 

The highly anticipated vehicle is set to begin rolling off Tesla’s California assembly lines in July and has helped fuel a surge in the company’s valuation to rival the likes of Ford and General Motors. The company plans to make half a million vehicles in 2018 and 1m by 2020.

The faulty part was supplied by a unit of Italy’s Brembo, a spokeswoman for Brembo North America confirmed.

“We are working with Tesla to ensure the issue is resolved quickly,” she said.

Tesla said it had not seen “a single accident or injury” relating to the brake issue, and there have been no reports of the system failing to hold a parked vehicle or stop a vehicle in an emergency. Only a “very small percentage” of gears were manufactured improperly, it added.

Tesla said repairs can begin immediately and that it will have enough parts for all affected vehicles by October. It estimates the repair can be completed in 45 minutes.

Shares in the company fell 1pc to settle at $302.51 in New York following the recall disclosure.

A Tesla Model X is displayed during the Geneva Motor Show Credit: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

“Our initial take on Tesla’s announcement is that the sell-off in shares may be overdone and would generally view this as a relative ‘non-event,’” James Albertine, senior analyst at Consumer Edge Research, wrote in a note to clients.

In November 2015, Tesla recalled 90,000 Model S cars because of a single report of a seat belt not being properly connected.

Tesla lacks a traditional network of franchised dealerships that handle both sales and service, including recall repairs. The company services customer vehicles instead through a network of around 135 service centres and with mobile technicians who repair customer cars at their homes or workplaces.

“Service capacity will not be an issue,” a Tesla spokesman said, noting that the mobile technicians will be able to handle the repair.

In a February letter to shareholders, Tesla said it was expanding its mobile repair operation as part of an effort to prepare for higher service demand from the Model 3. 

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