The ‘Huge’ Tesla Recall Is Really Just a Minor Software Update

Tesla is no stranger to being in the news, nor is the company a stranger to recalls of its vehicles. Now, the company’s latest recall in China has made waves in the media. However, is this recall really that big of a deal, or is it just another case of an exaggeration to generate clicks? After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

News outlets made a mountain out of a molehill

A pair of blue and red Tesla models parked outside of a Tesla showroom building
Tesla showroom | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Many news outlets declared the recall was both huge and yet could not agree on exactly how many vehicles were actually affected. CNN declared that “Tesla hits another bump in the road” and mentioned that the seemingly large scale of the problem is a “black eye”  for Tesla. Furthermore, many news outlets only briefly noted that it was not technically a recall and buried that tidbit under words like “Autopilot issues” and “debacles in China.”

The ‘huge’ Tesla recall is voluntary

According to CleanTechnica, who broke down the recall details, which is not really a recall, it centers around a potential problem where the driver could accidentally activate the active cruise control. Therefore, Tesla is actually just being proactive. It is not a required recall issued by a regulating body, and there have been no cases of this actually happening. Additionally, it is a straightforward fix, just a simple software update that can be done without going into the dealership. 

The software update involves approximately 249,855 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built at the Shanghai facility and approximately 35,665 imported Model 3s. Tesla is planning to contact any customers whose vehicle needs the update. 

Twitter chimed in with thoughts on the Tesla recall


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CleanTechnica followed up its original article, illustrating some of the Twitter responses that included a few interesting comparisons and an incredibly brief video demonstrating how to complete the software update for the recall. The video, which lasts just 12 seconds, shows that to get the update, you push the right lever down once, and you will hear a “ding” that indicates the vehicle is in TACC mode. Then you lift the same lever, and you will hear another “ding,” which turns TACC mode off, and you are done. Easy peasy.

Another comment compared it to updates on various apps on your phone. The user stated “62 recalls available” and included a screenshot of various apps, including American Airlines and Audible audiobooks and podcasts. The article pointed out how ludicrous it would be if news outlets reported the brand had a “recall” every time the app needed to be updated. Another user also commented on a new term coined by CNBC, dubbing it a “soft recall,” and the user speculated that “I guess going to a dealership is called a ‘hard recall.'”

It really should not surprise anyone that news outlets exaggerated the issue, most likely to get more clicks. Many people believe that there is no such thing as bad press, and for both Tesla and the different news outlets, that probably holds. Elon Musk, CEO and face of Tesla, seems to thrive on being at the center of news reports, good and bad. Meanwhile, most media sites thrive on clicks and mentions. This is what this article, and the other articles cited, did.