Back when the first Tesla Model S electric vehicles were rolling off the assembly line in California, CEO Elon Musk was literally checking each vehicle before it went out into the wild. As production ramped up, this was no longer possible. And, not that we're suggesting the two issues are directly related, now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Tesla are announcing the first big Model S recall. Tesla's first NHTSA recall affected the Roadster back in 2009.

The Model S recall affects 1,228 vehicles that were made between May 10 and June 8 of 2013 and is about a possible failure of the seatback mounting. Specifically, "an improper method for aligning the left hand seatback striker to the bracket may have weakened the weld between the bracket and the frame of the vehicle." What does that mean? "In the event of a crash, the left hand seatback may not stay mounted, increasing the risk of injury to passengers."

"Tesla has revised assembly procedures and retrained manufacturing technicians."

The problem happened because Tesla redesigned the joint between the bracket and vehicle to "improve function and reduce weight," and the new joint was put into place May 10. The new bracket worked just fine, but then, "on June 7, 2013, a technician on the assembly line was adjusting the alignment for the newly designed left hand second row seat striker utilizing a slide hammer when he noticed the action caused the striker to become loose. ... Upon review, Tesla Quality determined that the weld and bonding between the second row left hand seat striker mounting plate and the vehicle was compromised due to this method of adjustment." Since then, "Tesla has revised assembly procedures and retrained manufacturing technicians."

There have been no complaints or reports of injury about this issue. Tesla will repair the issue in the affected cars, but has not yet said when. Owners should be on the lookout for notification from Tesla if their car is subject to the recall.

You can read more in these PDFs (1, 2), which are letters between Tesla and NHTSA regarding the recall. You can also find more information on the NHTSA site by searching for campaign number 13V249000, and the text of the recall can be seen below.
Show full PR text
RECALL Subject : Seat Back Mounting may Fail

Report Receipt Date: JUN 14, 2013
NHTSA Campaign Number: 13V249000
Component(s): SEATS
Potential Number of Units Affected: 1,228

All Products Associated with this Recall

Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)
TESLA MODEL S 2013

Manufacturer: Tesla Motors, Inc

SUMMARY:

Tesla Motors, Inc. (Tesla) is recalling certain model year 2013 Model S electric vehicles manufactured May 10, 2013, through June 8, 2013. An improper method for aligning the left hand seat back striker to the bracket may have weakened the weld between the bracket and the frame of the vehicle.

CONSEQUENCE:

In the event of a crash, the left hand seat back may not stay mounted, increasing the risk of injury to passengers.

REMEDY:

Tesla will notify owners, and Tesla Service Centers will inspect the left hand second row strikers. Tesla will add additional mounting hardware to ensure a proper joint between the bracket and the frame, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Tesla at 1-650-681-5000.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.


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