Tesla's latest large-scale recall effectively covers its entire output for one nation. China's market regulator has ordered a recall of over 1.1 million Tesla cars, or nearly all the vehicles it has sold in the country, over a reported flaw in the regenerative braking system. As drivers can't set the intensity of regenerative braking or receive alerts with a sustained press of the accelerator, officials believe there's a risk owners might misuse the pedals (as they can't hear a revving engine) and crash.
The EV maker will fix the issue through a software update that both tweaks the default regenerative braking level and lets users customize the system's strength. Tesla will also notify drivers who press the accelerator for a long time. The recall covers Model 3 and Model Y cars made in China between January 2019 and April this year, as well as some imported Model 3, Model S and Model X examples.
Tesla has disbanded its PR team and hasn't commented on the recall. Bloomberg points out that Chinese drivers have complained multiple times about acceleration and braking issues. One driver used the 2021 Shanghai auto show to highlight a serious crash where her father nearly died after the brakes failed. Tesla apologized, but didn't acknowledge a glitch and noted the high speed before the collision.
As with most Tesla recalls, the software update won't significantly disrupt the company's business in the short term. However, it's not a good look for a brand that has had numerous recalls in recent years, including 80,000 in China last fall for software and seat belt problems. Tesla depends heavily on China for revenue — it's home to the giant Gigafactory Shanghai, which currently produces more than half of the firm's cars each year. Tesla can't afford to alienate either customers or officials.