Tesla Recalling 90,000 Model S Sedans Over Possible Seatbelt Flaw

Tesla model s 70D - H 2015
Courtesy of Tesla Motors

Tesla model s 70D - H 2015

Tesla Motors ordered the recall after receiving a report from a European driver of a seatbelt detaching.

Tesla Motors on Friday announced the recall of every Model S sedan ever manufactured after a driver reported a seatbelt detached from its mounting during normal operations.

In an email to Tesla Model S owners, the company said that it was recalling the car after receiving a single report earlier this month from a European Model S owner who said the driver's side seatbelt detached from its mounting when she turned to speak to a passenger in the back seat.

Tesla said it had unable to replicate the incident in testing but asked that Model S owners bring their cars to Tesla service centers for inspection of a bolt connected to a mechanism that automatically tightens the seatbelt when the car's computers sense a crash is imminent.

The company said it had informed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration about the recall.

Tesla was not present at this week's Los Angeles Auto Show press preview but the company's name was repeatedly invoked during panel discussions for its role in shifting the paradigm of the auto industry, which after years of complacency is being convulsed by change.

Tesla's practice of streaming over-the-software updates directly to its entire fleet of cars — which has included a patch to thwart hackers and, most recently, enabled controversial semi-autonomous driving capabilities for later Model S sedans — is the business and technical model of the future, industry experts and even competitors said during the convention.

"Tesla has done a great job of updating its software at a much faster pace of than the rest of the automotive industry," said Nick Sugimoto, senior program director of Honda's Silicon Valley Lab.

"Tesla has now had two vehicle modifications over the air without customers as part of the intervention loop," said former NHTSA chief David Strickland, during a panel discussion about a automobile cybersecurity. "That is the new normal — you will have a constantly changing, dynamic environment."