Tesla’s 2014-2016 Model S and 2015-2016 Model X vehicles come equipped with defective touchscreen media control units that routinely fail after only a few years of normal use, a proposed class action lawsuit alleges.
The 36-page complaint says that despite Tesla’s marketing and advertising claims for the Model S and Model X, the vehicles’ touchscreen units—which control everything from media to safety features—can go blank and prevent access to critical features. The case argues the units’ apparent propensity to fail after only a few years of use greatly jeopardizes the safety of Tesla buyers and lessees.
As the lawsuit tells it, a Tesla’s media control unit is the “gateway” between the driver and the vehicle’s safety, navigation, communications and entertainment features. Once the defect manifests, however, a Tesla’s media control unit, located in the vehicle’s center console, routinely goes blank, disabling critical functions, the complaint says. Control of exterior lights and access to a vehicle’s acceleration settings, steering modes, regenerative braking, sound system, GPS, self-driving mode, climate controls, rear-view camera and charging may be unavailable should the defect present itself, the suit says.
Further, an improperly functioning media control unit screen poses a distraction risk for drivers, the plaintiff stresses.
The case claims Tesla has “long known” or should have known of the media control unit issues given the volume of warranty claims, consumer complaints and data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the suit, Tesla itself has admitted that since it owns all of its service centers, the automaker is aware of every incident that happens with customers’ vehicles.
Nevertheless, Tesla, despite dedicating more than 40 pages in the cars’ owners’ manuals to media control unit features, has “made no effort” to warn buyers and lessees that the components found in certain Model S and Model X vehicles may malfunction, the lawsuit says. Highlighted specifically in the suit is Tesla’s avowed commitment to driver safety, which the complaint claims stands in contrast to the automaker’s sale of Model S and Model X vehicles while omitting mention of the media control unit defect.
To date, the automaker has not found a solution for the media control center issue, the suit claims. Instead, Tesla has informed drivers to “wait for forthcoming software updates” that will purportedly fix the problem, or has simply replaced the defective parts with equally faulty components, according to the case. As a result of Tesla’s inability to remedy the defect, drivers cannot rely upon their vehicles given the media control units may disable access to essential safety features, the lawsuit says.
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