This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Tesla to explain why the company did not issue a recall notice last month, when it released a safety-related software update for its Autopilot program.
The NHTSA s latest inquiry referenced Tesla's update to certain vehicle models that improve the ability to detect emergency vehicle lights in low light conditions while utilizing Autopilot. Federal regulators are testing Tesla's semi-autonomous driving system, which automatically controls basic tasks, such as steering and acceleration, but requires human oversight.
As Tesla is aware, the Safety Act imposes an obligation on manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor equipment to initiate a recall by notifying NHTSA when they determine that vehicles or equipment produced contain defects related to motor vehicle safety or do not comply with an applicable standard of motor vehicle safety, an NHTSA official said in a letter to Eddie Gates, Tesla's director of field quality.
The letter advised that automakers are required to notify the NHTSA of a recall notice within five days after they identify a safety defect or noncompliance in their vehicles. The agency asked Tesla if it plans to release a recall notice for the software update or to file a technical and or legal basis for declining to do so. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment immediately.
In a separate letter, the NHTSA asked Tesla to provide details for its security beta test of Full Self-Driving Software, including the number of participants and information on non-disclosure agreements participants were asked to sign.
In August, the NHTSA started an investigation into Tesla's autopilot functionality. The probe focuses on 12 crashes in which Tesla vehicles using autopilot purportedly failed to detect emergency vehicles.
Tesla officials maintain that the Autopilot System is safe to drive.