By on April 11, 2016


Like an actor who just can’t cut it, the third-row seats in Tesla’s Model X could fold under pressure, meaning the automaker now has to recall all of the SUVs it has delivered to date.

About 2,700 Model X vehicles sold in the U.S. will be heading back to Tesla for a fix after internal strength tests revealed that a rear seatback could slip. As a result, the company is cautioning owners not to seat anyone in the third row until repairs have been made.

The tests were being conducted prior to the model going on sale in Europe.

There’s a bright side to this setback for Tesla founder Elon Musk, and it’s not just that there have been no incidents or injuries reported from the defect. Deliveries of the falcon-winged Model X were pushed back due to a now-remedied parts shortage, meaning far fewer vehicles will have to be recalled than if production had gone off without a hitch.

Musk mentioned the “trouble” the parts shortage had given him during the March 31 unveil of the Model 3. Little did he know his parts problems weren’t over.

The rear seats in the Model X were supplied by Futuris SA, which will be shouldering the cost of the recall, according to Tesla. The first two rows of seats were designed and manufactured in-house by the automaker.

Jon McNeil, Tesla’s president of sales and service, said production of the SUV remains on schedule and insisted the recall was taking place “out of an abundance of caution.”

[Image: Tesla Motors] [Source: Bloomberg]

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38 Comments on “With a Recall Underway, the Model X is Still a Thorn in Tesla’s Side...”

  • avatar

    Don’t see how this hurts Tesla. With the current brand-glow, such precautionary recalls only burnish image of Tesla as being ‘different’ kind of car company. The peanut gallery will approve.

  • avatar

    I’m going into antagonist mode here, but for good reason, and upon good (industry insider) information (to the best of my knowledge).

    Musk loves to portray Tesla as some mutant variant of an equivalent automotive Apple in Silicon Valley, when 85% of the engineering heavy lifting to get the Model S into actual production was some in Detroit and its suburbs.

    Now, many of these same contract engineers and troubleshooters that helped Musk bring the S to actual market are saying the flaws in the Model X are a result of Musk trying to minimize help from Detroit talent, and that Tesla’s Model 3 aspirations are pure fantasy.

    • 0 avatar

      When are you in protagonist mode? :D

    • 0 avatar

      It goes beyond engineering, DW. Tesla foolishly brought in several upper level purchasing people from GM. They immediately turned cooperative supplier relationships into an adversarial ones. They don’t care about a supplier being profitable and they aren’t honest.

      • 0 avatar

        Wikipedia agrees with you on Tesla creating/encountering supplier issues.

        “According to Tesla Motors, deliveries were lower than expected because production was impacted by severe Model X supplier parts shortages in the first two months of 2016.”

        Per the same press release as cited above, a Q1 sales figure of 14,820 units is given but of the roughly 15K figure:

        “Model X sales totaled 2,400 units during the first quarter of 2016”

        This despite the uncited statement of

        “The Tesla Model S (left) and Model X (right) share the same platform and 30% of their parts”

        I’d say there is trouble brewing in Fremont.

    • 0 avatar

      The whole Apple thing is part of Musk conning people into thinking they are somehow alike, other than they are both incorporated and have employees. That’s about all.

      The funny thing is that with the public appetite for all things “SUV”, the “X” should be where they directed efforts. Higher margins than mid-level sedans by a wide berth.

      Saw one in the wild yesterday, not long enough to be sure how I felt about it.

      • 0 avatar

        >>> public appetite for all things “SUV”, the “X” should be where they directed efforts <<<

        I generally agree that SUVs are where the money is, but an all-electric SUV would be challenging:
        * won't have the towing capacity or towing range
        * not a great vehicle for ski trip to Tahoe … not only is it short on range (from the Bay Area), but its range is likely to be shortened further by the snow and fitment of snow-tires

        While few people with Model Xs (or any other $100k SUV) are likely to tow or go in snow, having the capability is part of the marketing image.

        • 0 avatar

          Is any of that the actual mass-use case for SUVs? I thought that the majority of SUV’s are basically used as vans (i.e., most people with SUVs do not tow and do not use them as anything but cars/vans for family?)

          I suppose that will matter more with the upcoming model 3 SUV, presuming one is coming.

        • 0 avatar

          Sunnyvale, Any of their cars isn’t really what you want for ‘climbing the hill’ as it were. That said, do you really *ever* see SUVs towing anything? I know marketing, but still, does anyone tow with a G-Wagen (certainly could) or an X5, or a Cayenne TT?

          The odd boat, to be sure, but actually towing something of substance? A trailer with a Bobcat for instance? I mean some theoretically could, but I’ve seen it maybe twice in over a couple million miles.

          Back when I used to do that run once a month, it took right at 3 hours from NOMA to Reno. If I had a Tesla, I would have had to fly.

        • 0 avatar


          Agree on the towing, few 100K SUV people tow in Bay Area. Actually probably not that many do anywhere, but I bet some 75K suburbans do tow.

          But lots of people use their MBZ GLs, Range Rovers, Land Cruisers, LX 570s, Cayennes to head up to Tahoe.

          In that sense, if the car cant make up to Tahoe in winter without a charge, that’s not ideal.

          • 0 avatar

            20 minutes on a Supercharger. Not that big a deal.

          • 0 avatar

            VoGo, A 20+ minute stop during what should be a 3 hour (or less) blast up the hill is “no big deal”?

            I guess you’re dedicated to pain , suffering, and misery. Or at least, your time means very little to you.

            Because that 20 minutes is just the time on the charger. Hoping one is available (and in the Bay Area I hear about waits) So one could easily turn a 3 hour jog into a 4 hour PITA.

      • 0 avatar

        The difference between Tesla and the rest of the automotive industry is that Musk has started to convince people that he’s not in the automobile business – he’s in the electrification business.

        What everyone forgets is that Musk needs to match the same compliance, quality, safety, comfort and luxury standards as the rest of the industry.

        Musk may desire to match Apple’s success as a brand, but the big thing that everyone needs to remember is that Apple doesn’t need to worry about the 6:00 news running stories about its products killing or maiming people.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen one Model X in person, and it sort of gave me feels of “meh” about it. Was not noticeable enough that anybody else in the group of 7-8 people I was walking with gave it a glance. I guess you have to see the hey-wow doors to be impressed with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think it looks ungainly. I am not a fan of the liftback shape.

    • 0 avatar

      I love driving it.
      Ya…looked like an outa proportioned egg….but I love driving like I do my other brother’s S.
      The only issue I have is their inability to learn the accelerator. They cannot get the handle on using it like you do any hydro lawn tractor. They seem only to push on or let off…forcing this erratic passenger jerking sickness. They cannot learn the foot sensitivity.
      And they seem insistent upon each of us enjoying the instant zero to 30 power…



      green light.

      I was not impressed with the X interior anymore than I was with Mike’s sedan…it was cheapish for an over 100K car.
      I think it is below average for 45K car.
      The door handles feel as if made of wood after experiencing them for the hour drives to and from the factory.

      And aside from the cool monster sized tablet…the dash is Nordic bland.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tesla caught a supplier issue during testing, early in the production cycle, and the supplier is eating the repair cost.

    Seems like a good outcome.

    • 0 avatar

      Not really. They shouldn’t have gone to that supplier in the first place. They chose them based on price alone. Now that supplier will eat the cost and could go out-of-business. Tesla’s gone from an innovator to a bunch of GM retirees.

      • 0 avatar

        Amended Godwin law version 3,865:

        In amendment 3,864 we concluded, any conversation about football will eventually reach a point where Tom Brady is a dirty cheater.

        In amendment 3,865 we have now added, any conversation about an automotive recall eventually will reach a point where GM is worse.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “They chose them based on price alone.” I doubt that.

        “Now that supplier will eat the cost and could go out-of-business.” If this supplier goes out of business in replacing 2700 seat mechanisms, they’re pretty weak.

        The supplier signed up for such a deal. If they make good on this fault, I’d expect Tesla to stick with them for the rest of the Model X production run. You can’t make out-of-spec product and expect the customer to pay the price.

      • 0 avatar

        ” They chose them based on price alone.”

        Citation Needed.

    • 0 avatar

      And, at least this time the fault with a third party supplier wasn’t a critical strut in a rocket found after the fact. Kudos for Telsa finding this in advance of any issues.

    • 0 avatar

      has it been fully explained it was Tesla dong the testing? And why not do the testing before releasing in the USA?

  • avatar

    The tesla platform is brilliant. You can staple anything atop it and have a vehicle that goes 0-60 in less than 4 seconds and gets 275 miles per charge.

    The problem is what they are choosing to staple on top isn’t very exciting- especially when the costs are ridiculous and supply is scarce.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Back in the early days of the automobile, luxury automakers like Rolls-Royce would merely build the chassis and drivetrain for the car. Buyers would commission coach-builders to create the body and interior. The Model S and Model X do benefit from having a complete frame with all of the running gear bolted to it. Moreover, the fact that it is an electric vehicle with independent motors for each axle means that there aren’t the same packaging constraints you’d see with a traditional ICE-powered vehicle, meaning that there’s a larger number of shapes the frame could fit within. I almost think Tesla would be more successful if it did simply built that, and let other companies complete the cars. Maybe there’s room for another EV builder to do something like that.

      • 0 avatar

        I originally thought that’s what would happen.

        I assumed other manufacturers would license the Tesla platform and put their own designs atop it.

        But thus far, every company seems to be avoiding doing that. BMW is building i8 and i3 their way.

        Mercedes is building PHEV out of existing classes.

        Audi wants to make synthetic fuel …

        • 0 avatar

          To be fair, synthetic fuel makes more sense than fuel cells with compressed hydrogen gas. Synthetic fuel is a far more dense energy carrier than H2 gas.

          Though Audi also seems to be working on fuel cell vehicles for some stupid reason.

          • 0 avatar

            Hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth and the Universe.

            The problem is the amount of energy that is needed to produce usable H fuel, or separate H2 from O.

            Frankly, I think going all Nuclear, Solar, wind, geothermal and alternative electric and using H fuel separated from sea-water instead of fossil fuel in applications which need combustible energy is the better choice.

            If you have to expend more energy creating an energy source than you actually get out of it:

            You’re doing it wrong

      • 0 avatar

        That’s a nice thought. If you build less than 500 (or whatever the new number is) you can get away with it.

        This will never work in mass production for so many reasons I don’t have time to list them all. We’ll start with NHTSA reg compliance, that’s kinda of a big one….

        • 0 avatar

          Imagine if an energy plan like this could be done on a small scale island or in a desert.

          Imagine I could set up HUNDREDS of Solar panels in a desert – using the shade to shield from heat – so we could live under them comfortably.

          Imagine channeling that energy into production of fresh water right from the air – or nearby salt water.

          Using that energy for our needs: computers, TV, cooling fans, etc.

          Someday people will wonder why we killed each other for oil when we had limitless power in the sky.

          • 0 avatar

            Mirror farm, tower. Split the H20 with superheating.

            Very doable. Proven. We could have built solar farms to power most of the country with what we pissed away in Iraq alone. you know what happened.

            If you think the oil companies will let that happen the day before they suck the last drop of oil from the ground, you don;t understand how the world works.

            There are also projected problems with global warming coming from the effect of hundreds of million of H cars leaking ever so slightly every time they fill. There was a Stanford paper on it a decade ago.

          • 0 avatar

            Maybe solar panels, if the efficiency could be increased, and you can find a good way to store the energy when the sun isn’t shining. I’ve always thought that a distributed grid using solar and small wind generators on homes and buildings could reasonably supplement existing power plants and could provide additional “free” energy. Cost and efficiency is still a major factor though.

            Mirror farms don’t seem to be ready for prime time yet. Just research Invanpah solar farm in California. A few of its problems:

            – Still only producing about 68% of potential power by the end of 2015, at a cost of $200 per MW/hr–about 6 times the cost of a natural gas power plant

            – Blinding glare from both the heliostats and receivers for pilots in the area. DOE paper produced by Sandia Natl. Labs from July 2014 indicates the glare impairs pilots at a distance of up to 6 miles.

            – Best one: between 1,000 and 28,000 birds (number varies depending on whether you ask power plant officials or environmentalists) are incinerated mid-flight every year as they pass through the area. During one study, “Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes…”

            I think it’s somewhat amusing that they actually have coined a term for the birds that are set aflame while flying, but I’m sure it’s less so for the birds.

            So yeah, great idea, but I’m not sure all the kinks are worked out yet.

  • avatar

    What do you mean by “…a rear seatback could slip”? The seatback collapses backward, toward the rear window? By the way, these things stir about as much excitement as a washing machine. Zzzzzzzzzz…

  • avatar

    I saw my first Tesla Model X today. Its appearance is not an asset. The new Tesla CUV screams miniature genitalia syndrome meets bully victim like no other before it. If you want to make your Ram truck driving neighbor feel like a real man, this is the car to do it.

  • avatar

    I saw a Model X yesterday. My first instinctual reaction: “kinda funny shaped”

    My first reaction on seeing a Model S: “Great looking car”

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