Recent reporting reveals Tesla is well aware of existing safety flaws with suspension & steering control parts but blames them on consumers & conceals them from U.S. regulators

Letter Text (PDF)

Washington (December 27, 2023) – After alarming reporting on Tesla safety flaws, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on the company to immediately recall all vehicle components that pose a risk to consumers. A recent Reuters investigation revealed that Tesla knows about existing flaws in its cars, including serious issues with steering control and suspension caused by component failures, but conceals the causes of the flaws from U.S. regulators while blaming its customers for them.

“We write with extreme concern following recent reporting about Tesla’s knowledge of safety flaws in its vehicles and concealment of the causes of these flaws from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),” wrote Senators Markey and Blumenthal to Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk. “This reporting puts your statement from January that ‘Teslas are the safest car on the road’ at stark contrast with reality. We call on you to swiftly recall all Tesla components that pose a safety risk and correct the record with NHTSA to ensure it can properly do its job.”

NHTSA is currently conducting investigations into one suspension connection point, the fore link, and power steering after failures experienced by Tesla drivers. In 2020, Tesla recalled the front suspension aft link and rear suspension upper link in China, suggesting the company is aware of these flaws in its vehicles, but no recall has yet taken place in the U.S. or other countries.

“[W]e are disturbed that you would blame your customers for these failures. Reporting notes that Tesla repeatedly attributed the suspension failures to ‘vehicle misuse’ or ‘driver abuse,’ including when justifying to NHTSA why it was not pursuing the aforementioned suspension recall in the United States,” continued the senators. “It is unacceptable that Tesla would not only attempt to shift the responsibility for the substandard quality of its vehicles to the people purchasing them, but also make that same flawed argument to NHTSA.”

Senators Markey and Blumenthal have long pushed for autonomous vehicle (AV) technology safety. In August 2021, the senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), calling for the agency to launch an investigation into Tesla’s advertising of driving automation systems. In February 2022, Senators Markey and Blumenthal sent a letter to Tesla Co-founder and CEO Elon Musk following numerous reports of dangerous braking flaws in Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving systems and amid several federal safety investigations, voicing serious concerns with the implementation of the company’s technology. In June 2022, the two lawmakers issued a joint statement applauding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) forupgrading its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis after identifying additional crashes at first responder sites. In October 2022, Senators Markey and Blumenthal issued a joint statement on a reported DOJ investigation into Tesla’s misleading advertising of driving automation systems. In February 2023, he and Senator Blumenthal issued a joint statement on Tesla’s recall of its vehicles equipped with Full Self-Driving Beta software due to crash risk, and in December 2023, the senators issued a joint statement on Tesla’s recall of 2 million vehicles with Autosteer, an Autopilot feature.