SAN FRANCISCO -- Tesla Motors Inc. said it will recall the Model X crossover to replace a third-row seat that failed an internal crash test.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, which notified customers of the recall this morning, said it discovered the flaw as it prepared to launch the electric crossover in Europe. During a frontal-crash test using stricter European Union standards, a latch meant to hold the seat upright collapsed under the weight of a simulated passenger.
“We’ve had no issues with failures in the field,” Jon McNeill, Tesla’s head of global sales and service, told reporters today. “But consistent with Tesla’s approach, we’re erring on the side of putting our customers’ safety first.”
It marks the first recall for the Model X, which joined the Model S sedan in Tesla showrooms in September after being beset by manufacturing glitches with its upward-opening falcon-wing doors and independently moving second-row seats.
Tesla said the flaw affects roughly 2,700 vehicles built before March 26, all of them in the United States. McNeill said Tesla expects to finish replacing the defective seats within five weeks at its factory-owned service centers.
The defective seats came from Australian supplier Futuris Group, which supplies Tesla from a factory in Newark, Calif., near Tesla’s factory in Fremont. McNeill said he expects Futuris to bear the cost of Tesla’s recall because the action stems from a manufacturing error, not a design flaw.
After informing its customers of the defect, Tesla will issue a formal recall through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. McNeill said the seats met U.S. standards when tested, but Tesla decided to move forward because “our European customers and our American customers are equally important to us.”
In the e-mail to customers this morning, Tesla urged Model X owners not to allow passengers in the third-row seats until they can be replaced.
“We recognize that not having the use of your third-row seats for the next few weeks will be an inconvenience, but your safety is our primary concern,” the e-mail said. “We assure you that we are building your new seat backs as fast as we can.”