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Tesla To Voluntarily Recall Every Model S Because One Seat Belt Came Apart (jalopnik.com) 207

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, a passenger in a Tesla Model S turned to talk to people in the back seat, and her seat belt somehow disconnected itself from the front seat. According to a Tesla spokesperson, "The seat belt is anchored to the outboard lap pretensioner through two anchor plates that are bolted together. The bolt that was supposed to tie the two anchors together wasn't properly assembled." Though the company hasn't been able to replicate the issue on any other cars, Tesla is issuing a recall for roughly 90,000 Model S vehicles so they can test that bolt.
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Tesla To Voluntarily Recall Every Model S Because One Seat Belt Came Apart

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  • by tgrigsby ( 164308 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @05:10PM (#50971905) Homepage Journal

    Hello, my name is Elon "Setting the bar so high my competitors throw up from the altitude" Musk. Nice to meet you.

    • by slazzy ( 864185 )
      Reminds me of the movie fight club where the guy supposedly worked for a car company, and part of his job was working with formulas to determine if the cost of lawsuits from deaths would be higher than the recall cost. Nice to see a car company obviously concerned with safety first.
      • Reminds me of the movie fight club where the guy supposedly worked for a car company, and part of his job was working with formulas to determine if the cost of lawsuits from deaths would be higher than the recall cost.

        At least according to a Mother Jones story from 1977 [motherjones.com], something similar did happen at Ford, although it wasn't based on lawsuit costs, it was based on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figure for the dollar value of a human life.

      • If you're not doing a design where you cost the various design alternatives, you're doing it wrong, and may even not minimise the thing you're 'caring most' about.

        It is always - for example - possible to improve safety of cars through expensive technical means.
        More complex construction with better crash absorbtion properties, ...
        But, if your vehicle is twice as safe as the rest of the fleet, and yet due to your safety upgrades costs eight times more than one that is only 1.1* as safe, you may actually end u

    • by Krojack ( 575051 )

      In the meantime, states continue to ban the selling of Tesla cars via online.

    • Definitely need to learn about the more reasonable measure called a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) in the industry. Essentially not a recall, but a fix this under warranty no questions asked if a customer mentions it / check this item during next maintenance check on vehicle.
  • Yes, the marketing campaign is flawless. My next car will be a Tesla, and my decision is based only on the articles published here on /.

    • If they came out with one in the $40k range, I would buy one, but at $100k, who can afford one?

      • by creimer ( 824291 )
        Cisco engineers. When I worked there for a while, the engineers would argue over the hardware specs like PC enthusiasts. Small dicks with big paychecks compensating for something.
      • This is one area where the "lower cost of living" areas of the country kind of get shafted.

        I make ~$65k per year. In my area - that's fine. I bought a recent construction 1800sqft 4 bedroom house for $115k. Food and electricity are cheap here - I have no problem living comfortably on my salary - EXCEPT when it comes to buying something like a car. Cars cost about the same regardless of where you are in the country. As such while I'm making over twice the median income for my area - even $40k for a car

        • You aren't really getting shafted. If you're in a higher cost of living area you still won't be able to afford it because you're spending all of that money on housing, higher food costs, etc., and can't afford to spend it on a car.

          In most "high cost of living" areas the higher wages don't make up for the house prices.
          • by zzyzx ( 15139 )

            Personally I like living in a high cost of living/high salary location. It makes it a lot easier to travel. On the other hand, I bought a house before the bubble started. I might not be a fan otherwise.

          • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

            In most "high cost of living" areas the higher wages don't make up for the house prices.

            QFT. My sister just learned that lesson and is moving back to Dayton, OH after a few months near Boston. She was being paid more, but probably all of the extra pay (and then some) was sucked up by the $1900/month rent for a tiny old house with no A/C and no garage (or even off-street parking). She was previously paying probably a bit more than half as much for something much newer, larger, and better-equipped.

            All she

        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          Is not about what you make, it's about what you spend. By your own admission you make more than I do, and I just bought a Tesla Model S with my savings. And that's in a country where the S costs even more due to our low currency exchange rate with the US.

      • by rfengr ( 910026 )
        Who can afford one? Apparently 90k people. Not me though, at least not with college savings for 2 grade school kids. Though I plan on buying one when they come out with the lower price model. Had my eye on a VW TDI but they blew it. Being an EE, I like the simplicity of an electric car. Hoping the next one will still have AWD option with insane mode.
      • If they came out with one in the $10k range, I would buy one, but at $40k, who can afford one?

        • I drive a $35k Tundra, it isn't so expensive. At 0% APR, it costs me $577.77 a month.

          I would tend to compare the Tesla to an Avalon Hybrid, which bases out at about $41k, so for double the price, you get a car that out performs the Avalon, and uses no gas. I am not sure it is worth the trade off.

    • Me too. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @05:40PM (#50972117) Homepage Journal

      Yes, the marketing campaign is flawless. My next car will be a Tesla, and my decision is based only on the articles published here on /.

      I'm also planning on getting a Tesla as my next vehicle.

      It's largely because of context. I *hate* how my dealership inserts itself between me an my purchase and tries to siphon off money for itself. I went through the trouble of looking for the *same* model and make of my previous purchase between two dealers - and got two "rock bottom" prices that were $1000 different. I know they were "rock bottom" prices, because the dealership told me so.

      There's also the reliability context. GM has a problem with its ignition switches, denies the problem for a decade, and once a hundred deaths occur [usatoday.com] fixes the issue without telling anyone, and backdates the paperwork [wikipedia.org] in an attempt to hide the issue.

      For the longest time I couldn't rationalize Tesla stock analysis in the financial news. It's almost as if the analysts were looking at Tesla as a black box company: they make some product, have some capitalization, have some profit/loss, and it's a good/bad buy.

      As near as I can figure, the financial analysts have an algorithm that actually looks at Tesla as a black box company and makes an heuristic estimate of whether it's a good buy or not. Periodically, an analyst chooses Tesla for review and then rationalizes the heuristic output based on whatever news has recently happened.

      (I think that's how all financial analysis is done, actually. It's always "markets are *up* because of $X, markets are *down* following $Y", and so on. It makes the reader think that market fluctuations are caused by these newsworthy events.)

      No one in the financial news seems to clue in that the company is building a battery factory, or that the cars had (at the time) the highest rating on Consumer Reports, or that they own a nationwide chain of chargers (and are building more), or even that they are currently selling electric vehicles.

      Nope - none of that matters. Porsche plans [cnn.com] to make an electric vehicle, and Tesla's stock tanks.

      Apparently, in the financial markets context doesn't matter.

      But if you look at the context, Tesla is the best product on the market.

      • It's largely because of context. I *hate* how my dealership inserts itself between me an my purchase and tries to siphon off money for itself. I went through the trouble of looking for the *same* model and make of my previous purchase between two dealers - and got two "rock bottom" prices that were $1000 different. I know they were "rock bottom" prices, because the dealership told me so.

        Now, it depends on the total price of the car but, given a new car in the $30k range, that isn't a big difference (Would you be upset if someone said a rock bottom price was $100 and another said it was $97?)

        One dealer may be paying a lot more to occupy their lot - or may have less sales volume, requiring them to make up the overhead over fewer purchases.

        Now, I'm not saying you want to pay $1k more but, percentage-wise (assuming a $30k vehicle) a 3% difference is pretty minor - or may be due to something a

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Last I checked, Tesla's market cap was 1/4th of Ford's. Yeah, I think they have a bright future, but that's beyond optimistic with so many risks to Tesla future. Good product has little to do with good stock.

  • News: "Tesla issues recall affecting 90,000 electric vehicles for seatbelt defect"

    Reality: "Priding itself of quality and execution, Tesla issues voluntary recall for loose seatbelt screw despite improbability that human assembler screwed up more than once."

    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      What is Happening: "Priding itself of quality and execution, Tesla issues voluntary recall for loose seatbelt screw despite improbability that human assembler screwed up more than once."

      What People Hear: "Tesla is the next in a long line of Auto Makers whose vehicles are deathtraps."

  • Smart move. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @05:19PM (#50971981)
    Assuming it costs $20 to check each car (about a half hour of mechanic time) that's less than $2 million. They're getting a ton of good publicity, good will from their customers--we like to buy stuff from companies that don't want to kill us--and if one of these belts fails and leads to a death they could easily lose that much in just one lawsuit.

    It's as if Musk is asking himself "How would GM handle this?", then doing the opposite.
    • It's as if Musk is asking himself "How would GM handle this?", then doing the opposite.

      There's nothing at all wrong with learning from other peoples' mistakes. And GM is definitely a great company to look at when you want an example of what NOT to do (for just about anything).

      • Actually, all of the other car makers are great examples of what not to be.
        • I disagree: some are better than others. Maybe not as good as Tesla, but this isn't a binary thing. And since not everyone can afford a $100k Tesla, most of us are going to be stuck buying from one of the other companies. Personally I've been pretty happy with my Mazda and Volvo, and my Hondas before that were well-built cars. It's usually the American companies that seem to have something bad going on, though in recent years it seems like Toyota's been working on catching up with them.

          • Might want to re-evaluate it based on what everybody is seeing and not just on what you see with your 2 cars. [cars.com]
            Volvo is WAY down the list. And mazda is just barely above average.

            Sadly, JD Powers refuses to rate Tesla. Interestingly, Tesla is now at the same sales volume as Porsche was in 2000. And if all goes well Tesla will surpass Porsche by 2018. Of course, the question is, will JD Powers finally rate Tesla then?
            • That's an "initial quality" survey. Why anyone even bothers with that thing, I have no idea. It's exactly what it sounds like: they survey people who *just got* their cars. It has zero bearing on long-term reliability.

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                This may interest you:
                http://www.jdpower.com/sites/d... [jdpower.com]

                (PDF warning)

                Oddly, I've nary a problem with my BMWs over the years - nothing major, at any rate. On the other hand, I keep them properly maintained. Yes, yes it is expensive but it seems to be worth it.

              • how about this one?

                http://www.consumerreports.org... [consumerreports.org]

                • Ok, but that's only about Tesla, nothing else. I don't have a Tesla so I can't really speak to its long-term reliability. It doesn't surprise me that a rather new car company with a lot of new tech is having some issues. However there's probably also the effect where high-end cars usually have more complaints than low-end cars, which is why the luxury makes historically did somewhat poorly on JD Powers' surveys: people who pay $50-100k for a car are a lot pickier and quick to complain about small issues

    • Even then, this is voluntary. Chances of every Model S owner bringing their car in is simply not going to happen. Half, maybe.

      • Recalls are usually checked at routine maintenance time, too. My Subaru (I'd love a Tesla, but they don't suit my driving needs) got a couple of minor repairs - nothing likely to be life-threatening, just stuff that would probably cost them more to repair if they ignored it - for free when I took it in for its scheduled maintenance.

        Now, Teslas don't need a lot of servicing, but they do get some. I'm sure some people will schedule a special service time to have the seatbelt checked, but for most people they'

      • Nope. All owners bring in their cars every year.
    • The consumer always has the option of whether to heed to recall or not. The Voluntary part of this is that Tesla decided to issue the recall without a mandate from the NHTSA or whoever it is that can mandate recalls. Consumer can still ignore it if the NHTSA mandates it.
  • Tesla is quickly becoming the most trustworthy car company around. They care more about the possibility of a problem than about their bottom line.

    Of course, it's a lot easier to do that when you have a high margin luxury product.

    • Luxury, yes, but I'm not actually sure about the margins. They make money on every car sold, but they still end up in the red most quarters due to things like R&D costs. Now, maybe they just spend a ton on R&D (and probably also things like Supercharger stations, the new factory, etc.), but they aren't exactly raking in the dough the way "high margin" implies.

      • I think their stated profit margin per car was around $9k, which is a pretty good margin in the automotive industry. The company as a whole may not turn a profit quarter to quarter, but that is because they are making large investments in other areas as you mentioned.

    • And yet, they are night and day above the direct competitors such as S class, a8, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

    Which car company do you work for?

    A major one.

  • by kamakazi ( 74641 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @06:02PM (#50972265)

    Right now the auto industry is reeling from a serious of serious "we had a problem, but we didn't want to say anything" scandals, from the GM ignition switch to the VW super smoggers, and don't forget the shrapnel bags. The entire ecosystem is full of distrust, some of it fairly active distrust.

    In this environment a one off assembly mistake where there was no accident, no damage of any kind, is a marketing opportunity you couldn't even buy in a normal market environment.

    Musk already recalled all his cars once, to bolt extra belly armor on them because of an accident which would have been considered extreme in any vehicle, and in which his car came out smelling like a rose.

    This recall is going to be a lot cheaper. No engineering, not even any replacement parts, but now Tesla is Even More Different(tm) because they recalled a potential problem immediately, before anybody even asked about it.

    Based on Musk's previous behaviour I think he really cares that his products are perceived as the best. I am not making a character reference because I don't know the guy, but he obviously cares about at least the appearance of superlativeness.

    The guy runs a marketing machine that reminds me of the late Mr. Jobs in his prime.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Volvo used to act like musk. Their cars were back in the day built like sherman tanks and were designed properly.

      • And they looked like Sherman tanks and drove like them.....

        • by Nethead ( 1563 )

          Hey! My '98 V70 is the most comfortable car I've ever owned. It does not drive like a tank, more like a well worn-in Lay-Z-Boy.

          Not saying that the sample lot was all that high-end, well there was the '96 Mazda Millennia, that was a nice car too.

          I happen to like the way the V70 looks. This may explain why my wife picks my clothes when we go out, and makes me take the 2001 Volvo S60.

      • by aralin ( 107264 )

        I can confirm this, my wife T-boned a Volvo that run a red light in front of her. Our Honda Civic was totaled, the Volvo went into 540 degree spin. I've seen the Volvo and I could not tell where it was hit. Under very close inspection I found one place with slightly scratched paint. In contrast the whole front of the Civic was crumbled, the engine shifted, it was an unrepairable mess.

        • For a long time, Volvo equated indestructibility with safety. Then they finally noticed that "safety" means not injuring the occupants, and this is best achieved by dispersing the crash energy via destroying the vehicle rather than having the frame remain rigid and transferring the energy to the occupants. Other manufacturers are still way ahead of Volvo on this.

  • Still can't get my airbag fixed.

  • They would simply release a statement that the customer is at fault and if anyone is unhappy about it they will give you a $5.00 coupon off of your next GM vehicle purchased at full MSRP prices only.

    • If it was any other car maker, they would do nothing until forced by govs to do so. And that would occur only after multiple deaths.
  • This is simply a QC issue. Bolts were not tightened (or were absent?) in a single vehicle's driver-side seat-belt. It could have been a single oversight. Or, a disgruntled line-worker. Or, a tired one who has the flu. The first step, out of caution, is to recall all other vehicles assembled that day. The next; recall all that this person (or robot?) touched. Last, because we're talking about a life-saving device, and the work to check each one at the dealer is minimal, then it's the only reasonable

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