Government launches investigation into Tesla seatbelt parts
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced it is investigating seat belt parts on Tesla Model X SUVs manufactured between 2022 and 2023 in response to owner reports that the safety devices were defective.
The federal agency said approximately 50,000 Model X vehicles may be affected by the potential defect.
The investigation will focus on the link spot between the seat belt pretensioner and anchor are linked, according to NBC News. The defect reports received by the agency suggest the link and pretensioner "suddenly separated" when force was applied.
There have been no injuries reported from the defects, and the agency noted that the separation generally occurred at "low vehicle mileage," suggesting the flaws are caught relatively early in the vehicles' ownerships.
The potential defect is just one of the multiple Tesla issues under investigation by the NHTSA.
Earlier this month the agency announced it was investigating claims that Tesla steering wheels were coming off their columns as well as a fatal accident involving a Tesla — suspected to have been in Autopilot mode — crashing into a firetruck.
On 18 February, a Tesla Model S the NHTSA believes may have been in Autopilot mode rammed into a Contra Costa County fire department's ladder truck. The drive of the Tesla was killed and a passenger was critically injured.
Four firefighters on the truck also had to be treated for minor injuries, and the fire truck was damaged, according to the Associated Press.
The fire truck incident is the standout — but not only — incident raising questions about the safety of Tesla's Autopilot feature.
The investigation will focus on how Tesla's Autopilot responds to and detects emergency vehicles parked on highways.
At least 14 Teslas have crashed into emergency vehicles while using the Autopilot system.
“Recent reports of automobiles that may have been operating automated driving systems crashing into parked emergency vehicles at the scene of an emergency is a serious concern for the safety of our firefighters and paramedics and the public we are serving,” Rob Brown Jr., CEO of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said in an email to the AP.
As for Tesla steering wheels, the NHTSA revealed in a report that as many as 120,000 Model Y SUV's may have a defect allowing the wheel to detach from the steering column.
The agency notes two 2023 Model Y SUV's that were shipped without bolts connecting the wheels to the columns. When force was exerted the wheels popped off the columns.
The Independent has asked Tesla for a response to this story.