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All press is good press seems to be a mantra Tesla lives by. The innovative EV automaker is often in the news, and it’s never boring. Tesla investors went for a wild ride this year with shares in the company at $845 at the start, dropping for several months until an October rally, and back over $1,000 at year’s end.

The latest buzz is that Tesla is using batteries from 2017 in 2021 Model 3s. We have all the details on that, Tesla’s wild 2021, and what we might see in 2022.

 A year of controversy for Tesla and EVs

Tesla Model 3 vehicles at Tesla's gigafactory in Shanghai, China
Tesla Model 3 vehicles | Xinhua/Ding Ting via Getty Images

Tesla had an interesting 2021. James Mackintosh wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Tesla was both his biggest mistake and greatest success from an investment perspective. When you look at the many news stories about Tesla this past year, it’s not hard to see why.

Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta technologies made the news a few times. One of the latest stories was in December with a Paris taxi firm suspending over 30 Tesla Model 3 cars in its fleet after an accident resulted in one fatality and 20 injuries. The investigation is ongoing, and Tesla maintains that a technical error didn’t cause the crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been taking a close look at Tesla for a couple of years now. According to the New York Times, there were reports of fires in select Tesla vehicles that had been charged at one of the company’s fast-charging stations in China. The NHTSA investigated after receiving a petition in 2019 but found no such incidents in the U.S.

EVs produced by Tesla and other automakers have also been found to catch fire on occasion if their battery packs sustained damage in accidents. The problem is that the heat is intense because of the high voltage used, and the fires are difficult to extinguish.

Tesla Model 3 batteries from 2017?

Speaking of batteries and the Tesla Model 3, according to The Drive, consumers will want to read the fine print before buying a new Model 3. A user on Twitter first posted about his observation that older batteries from as far back as 2017 were being used in some new Model 3s. Tesla acknowledges these older batteries may have lost an eighth of their overall capacity.

William Hummel posted screenshots from Tesla’s website showing new Model 3s listed for sale with a range disclaimer displayed along with a partial explanation. It doesn’t say why the new Model 3s were “built” with 2017 batteries and suggests they were installed at the factory instead of refurbished at a service center. Consumers expect an all-new vehicle when they buy a new car, and the term “Demo Vehicle” is also used though the term isn’t strictly defined.

It’s also noted that the disclaimers don’t appear on the automaker’s online configurator. They instead appear on Tesla’s inventory page. At the moment, it’s not known precisely why some new models are fitted with the old batteries and not others. 

What’s in store for Tesla in 2022?

Elsewhere, Tesla is starting 2022 with two recalls. Consumer Reports states that the automaker is recalling 119,009 Tesla Model S sedans produced from 2014 through 2021 for the first recall. The issue centers around the front trunk “frunk” area can unexpectedly open while the vehicle is in use and impede the driver’s view of the road ahead.

The second recall is 356,309 Tesla Model 3s produced between 2017 and 2020. The issue is a cable that sustains wear over time and blocks the rearview camera feed. 

Both recalls follow an investigation into the Tesla “Passenger Play” feature that allowed video games to be played while the car was in use. Tesla has since said the feature would now only work when the vehicle is parked.

According to Electrek, Tesla’s primary goal in 2022 is to keep the production volume as high as possible while maintaining good efficiency and gross margins. Tesla leads the EV revolution and helps significantly in speeding up the switch from combustion engine vehicles. The automaker is expected to progress projects like Full Self-Driving and the Tesla Semi, although neither will likely debut in 2022. Additionally, the Cybertruck may begin production late in 2022. Tesla is also expected to unveil a prototype of a new Tesla Roadster this year, but production likely won’t start until 2023.


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