We've entered a new era in which cars, like our personal computers, can have improvements and upgrades made by remote downloads. The convenience factor is wonderful (and replacement improved external charger modules are being shipped to customers). I just hope that hackers don't start disrupting vehicle performance and safety using that same channel that is supposed to be used to improve them. I also hope that nobody is making custom modifications to their cars that will corrupt these updates. I hope the long track record with automated PC security updates had identified the necessary security features for such upgrades. (I just get a little nervous posting a comment that says "hope" three times.)
You hope in vain alas, DrQuine. Hackers will exploit these loopholes and people will mess up with manufacturer installs. We can't have our cake and eat it, we have to live with the risk, try to minimise it as much as possible, knowing it will always be there.
As noted at the end of the article, there is some controversy over the use of the term "recall" in this case. No vehicles were actually recalled and the fix involved a wireless software update and new chargers being sent to vehicle owners:
@rich.pell, to Elon Musk's tweet, I would say, that's a BS. It's semantics. If your car needs to be fixed, it is irrelevant whether you bring your car physically to a shop. While I do appreciate the convenience of over-the-air software patch practice, well, this was a recall.
While I agree that the hacker angle is negative, I personally can't wait to see what modifications people start doing to their own vehicles! Obviously I don't want any safety issues to arrise, but modifications to things you own are always interesting to me.
Initially, based off your comment above I was inclined to disagree with your adamancy to label this a "recall". However, once you put the perspective on this that a car can kill someone, I immediately see what you mean.
Maybe there should be some kind of new term for potentially lethal issues requiring software updates. I see this as an issue that might reach far beyond just cars, and the term "recall" itself is getting a bit dated, but in this case seems like an accurate depiction.
@Junko: If your car needs to be fixed, it is irrelevant whether you bring your car physically to a shop.
If your car needs to be fixed, it's sure as hell relevant to you.
A friend recently bought a Tesla Model S. He is over the moon about it.
He rhapsodized about an issue, where his car died in his garage and would not start. He called Tesla. The next day, Tesla was there with a truck and techs. The diagnosed the car, loaded it on the truck and took it away. They returned it the next day, fixed, and put it back in the garage where they got it.
It was warranty service, and didn't cost him a dime. Can you imagine any other auto maker doing that?
He understands that it's part of Tesla's effort to build their brand and confidence in it, since he's a sales and marketing guy by trade, but he's still grinning with delight.
How often does your car breaking down leave you smiling at the end of the process?
While I do appreciate the convenience of over-the-air software patch practice, well, this was a recall.
Was it? A recall is normally though of as having to bring the car into the shop. Is it a recall if you don't have to?
And with the increasing level of automation in vehicles and what can only be called "smart cars", we are approaching the point where manufacturers may automatically push firmware updates to vehicles to correct problems/add functionality, so you are automatically running the lastest version. Is that process a "recall"?
@DMcCunney, I love your friend's Tesla story. I've heard similar stories as well. The point is that Tesla is doing everything it can to establish its brand and please its customers. That's admirable.
That said, here's my argument about "recall" definition.
OK. You are right. Customers did not physically have to return the car -- hence it was not "recalled" as far as the definition of the word "recall" goes.
But motor vehicle "recalls" are issued because of safety standards. To me, by saying this car was NOT technically recalled, it is as though Tesla is saying that this overheating issue does not fall into the category of "defect." I find Musk's tweet clever but also that tweet makes him sound irresponsible. Just as a reminder, NHTSA only issues a "recall" when it finds the following.
The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety defines motor vehicle safety as "the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle."