Tesla faces Australian recall over safety breach

Tesla's profit has dropped by 55 per cent, compared to the first quarter of 2023.

Tesla's profit has dropped by 55 per cent, compared to the first quarter of 2023. Photo: Getty

The latest version of one of Australia’s best-selling electric cars faces a potential recall after it failed safety requirements.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program said Tesla’s updated Model 3 did not qualify for a five-star rating like its predecessor, and would remain “unrated” based on information the American auto brand had shared about the car.

The announcement could mean the new $62,000 Model 3, which began arriving in Australia in December, will be recalled and shipments stopped.

The outcome would be another speed bump for electric vehicles after thousands were turned away from Australian waters recently following the discovery of yellow-spotted stink bugs aboard their cargo ship.

Experts said that delay meant Australia missed its projected milestone of 100,000 new electric vehicle sales during 2023.

ANCAP announced its decision to deny a safety rating for Tesla’s most recent release this week. It said information provided by the brand confirmed “the five-star safety rating for the Tesla Model 3 cannot be applied to face-lifted vehicles at this time”.

ANCAP chief executive Carla Hoorweg said the group recommended consumers carefully consider a vehicle’s safety rating before purchase.

“ANCAP encourages all consumers and fleet buyers to prioritise the purchase of vehicles which are confirmed to hold a current five-star ANCAP safety rating, ensuring the highest levels of safety,” she said.

“There remains plenty of choice for consumers looking to buy a newer, safer vehicle.”

The updated Tesla Model 3 features a more aerodynamic exterior, a remodelled interior, a rear seat touchscreen, and an additional airbag.

However, concerns have been raised about changes to the child safety seat anchorage point in the rear of the vehicle. Photos from customers show the anchor is no longer obvious or simple to access.

Under Australian Design Rules, passenger cars must have anchors for child safety seats and that “no items need to be removed to gain access to the upper anchorage” other than “closure plugs and items movable without the use of tools”.

If Tesla is in breach of the rules, it will be the second time an electric car has fallen foul of the Australian guidelines after sales of the BYD Atto 3 were paused in 2022 due to a similar issue.

Tesla could be forced to issue a physical recall for the new vehicle, or it could face a notice to stop deliveries.

Any action could have a significant impact on the market as the Tesla Model 3 was Australia’s second most popular electric vehicle in 2023. It had sales of more than 17,000 vehicles, up from more than 10,000 in 2022, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.


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