Tesla Recall: Not the End of the World

Tesla has recalled a sizable amount of its Roadsters due to an inner-wheel hub issue. (Photo: Alexander Nie [CC BY SA-2.0]/Flickr)

Tesla Motors’ recall of 345 of the 500 glamorous electric roadsters it has so far put on the road was met with some fairly hysterical blog posts wringing their digital hands about whether this development was “good” for the future of the EV industry.

Honestly, now, it’s just a little recall (of all the cars built before April 22 this year) that has nothing to do with the electric drivetrain. The inner rear wheel hubs on some of the cars may have been “under-torqued,” which means the bolts aren’t tight enough. In its dry government way, the Department of Transportation says a loose hub “could lead to degradation in vehicle handling, and a rubbing noise from the rear of the vehicle.”

No wheels have fallen off, and no accidents reported. Tesla Motors is repairing the vehicles for free, and owners can call its hotline at 877-888-3752. A free software upgrade sweetens the sting. Recalls happen all the time (10 million cars were recalled in 2006, for instance), and nobody worries that it’s the end of the car industry.

But Tesla is definitely under a microscope, because it’s the first EV maker to actually have cars in the marketplace. And Daimler’s recent purchase of “nearly 10 percent” of Tesla for a “double-digit million-dollar sum” has really drawn attention. The company is aware of this. “We plan to do everything we can to address this matter swiftly and keep customers satisfied,” said Greg Zanghi, Tesla’s Director of Service and Parts Operations.

Initial assembly of the Tesla is done by Lotus in England, and the problem originated there, not in California where finishing touches are handled. Some Lotus sports cars with the same problem have also been recalled.

Tesla does need to deal with this issue promptly and bend over backwards for its customers (who after all, paid over $100,000). But it is doing that (there will even be house calls). It’s unlikely the emerging EV market will be shaken to its foundations. If you've somehow missed the vast amount of publicity afforded the Tesla Roadster, here's a short video that shows what this near-silent sports car looks like on the road: