Tesla started delivering its Tesla Semi just a few months ago, and now it has the dubious honor of issuing its first recall for the electric semi truck.
It was found that the electronic parking brake module could fail to engage due to air leakage within the unit, leaving drivers unaware that it isn’t activated, possibly leading to a rollaway incident when the driver releases the service brake.
This problem was identified as affecting 35 “Intellipark Valve Modules” all supplied by the same supplier, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, and equipped in vehicles produced between November 30, 2022, and February 28, 2023. Bendix seems to be undergoing a similar recall for the same part, affecting a total of 836 units, including non-Tesla brands.
The NHTSA’s recall report states that Bendix discovered this issue in early February, after which Tesla spent the next month investigating the effect and scope that the issue would have on its vehicles. After that, Tesla determined to issue a recall on 35 affected vehicles.
As of March 24, the date of the recall, Tesla hasn’t identified any instances in the field where the parking brake error has resulted in a crash or any damages.
Tesla has notified service teams of the recall, and will mail letters to owners notifying them of the recall starting May 23. Owners may also contact Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752. It plans to replace the 35 defective units with a replacement unit with better internals to prevent air leakage. As of March 14, Tesla Semi trucks are now manufactured with the improved replacement module.
Tesla started deliveries of the Tesla Semi in December of 2022, delivering an initial batch of 36 (not 35) trucks to Pepsi and Frito-Lay. Since then, Tesla has issued one end-of-quarter delivery report, but that report did not include numbers for the Tesla Semi. As such, we do not know how many total trucks have been delivered thus far, nor what percentage of the existing fleet this recall covers (though it does seem to cover a pretty wide period of manufacturing).
It’s not the greatest thing to have a new product get recalled, but it’s not uncommon, and in this case, it seems to be entirely the fault of a single supplier.
That’s not to say that it’s not a problem, because these things perhaps could have been caught by internal QA testing. But Tesla also doesn’t seem to be the only manufacturer affected by this defective unit.
Also, it only affects 35 units. That’s pretty low in the scheme of things, even with a lower-volume vehicle like a Semi. Recall that Ford was recently praised for its response to F-150 Lightning battery problems, which required a recall of just 18 trucks.
So, I’m not too concerned about this one, but we can certainly keep an eye out to see if issues like this – or ones that are more attributable to Tesla, rather than a supplier – keep occurring.