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The “R” word just won’t go away…

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by SarahsDad, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. SarahsDad

    SarahsDad Member

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    Imagine my own frustration when I opened our local paper this morning and read this headline on the front page of the business section - “Tesla co-founder frustrated by NHTSA’s recall”.
    Looks like it was picked up from Bloomberg News Faced With Recall, Tesla Asks Just What 'Recall' Means - Bloomberg with that original somewhat less inflammatory headline.


    This is disappointing for two reasons: First, the ‘recall’ issue is staying in the news cycle. But also, it makes Elon look petty. What the lay public won’t notice, though, is that this of course really shouldn’t even be called a ‘recall', and Elon has every right to address the issue. I mean, seriously, this involves an adapter I’ve never even used in 5,000 miles of ownership that has never been the (definite) cause of a Tesla fire, for which a software update (to reduce charging) has already been deployed, and does not require my vehicle to be “recalled" to the dealer or anywhere else.


    The same day NHTSA issued Tesla’s ‘recall’, GM issued a recall for 300,000 SUVs because “when the vehicle is idling in cold temperatures, the exhaust components can overheat… the overheated exhaust components may melt nearby plastic parts and may result in an engine fire”. And of course the vehicles have to actually be “recalled” to the dealership to receive an engine control module reprogramming. The letter to vehicle owners states “Until you have had your vehicle serviced please do not let your vehicle idle”. Seriously? Where’s the media coverage for that?
    .
    More Tesla “recall” headlines may trigger hesitation not only from investors but potential buyers as well, even though the concerns are, IMHO, unfounded. I just hope it doesn’t hinder the potential successes for this company.

    IMG_2654.jpg
     
  2. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I've argued this in the other thread, but I'll say it again: They identified a weakness or something that could be improved in a physical product they shipped. They are sending out a replacement product devoid of that weakness/defect and advising customers to use that instead. IMO, they recalled the charging adapter. It was a recall.

    No, they didn't recall the car or a part of the car, but they ARE recalling a product they created and shipped to consumers. As I said before, it's really not a big deal, and probably wouldn't have been in the media if they had simply explained it instead of throwing a hissy fit. As you said, it's making Elon seem petty.

    BTW a friend sent me this link in an email with the subject "Your Hero": Musks English lesson risks wrath of U.S. regulator on fires -- THIS is the image he's sending out.
     
  3. GSP

    GSP Member

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    This shows the brilliance of Elon's petty parsing of the English language. Sure it is petty, but he is getting loads of free publicity for Tesla, while GM is getting nothing to speak of. It also lets him get the word out that Tesla is more advanced than competitors with over the air software updates. The result is that Tesla can spend advertising money on Superchargers, benefiting all owners, instead of TV and print ads.

    GSP
     
  4. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Don't most folks just ignore advertising anyway? I can't think of the last time advertising caused me to take action. (Well, other than getting rid of the TV so that I didn't have to see the ads :)
     
  5. Reykjavik

    Reykjavik Member

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    As far as PR goes, I'm not sure arguing over the semantics is worthwhile. In fact, embracing the word "recall" might have payed off significantly. A statement along the lines of "faulty wiring in the house could lead to fire risk when high current is used, and with our charger and on board computer, we realized that we had the ability to detect some of those problems as they happen, shut down charging, and give you a warning. There have been no cases of our charging system causing significant damage, but if there is any way we can make you more safe, we are dedicated to doing it, and as such we have recalled the charging adapters, to be replaced with an upgraded unit, and we have already sent a software update that will detect unexpected fluctuations in current during charging".

    The model S is the safest car on the road today. They just made it safer. The semantics of whether or not it is a recall aren't the issue here.
     
  6. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    Actually, what that says to me is a) your friend didn't mind the image they sent out by entitling the e-mail as they did (probably because they were just sending the e-mail to another friend - we're all very comfortable being ourselves in that situation, good and bad, and b) that Mr. Plungis wanted to show Elon Musk in a particular light. I could rewrite this article, keep all the factual information, and make Elon Musk look like a hero for standing up to the 'big bad wolf' NHTSA.

    Elon Musk is consistently himself. You don't have to like the things he says or does, but you at least always know what's on his mind, what he thinks, and where he stands. That is a GOOD trait for a person to possess. Why some want to make that out to be a villainous trait is an interesting study in human behavior at best.

    As far as I'm concerned, not a thing wrong with the image Elon Musk is sending out. I believe his chutzpah is to be admired, and certainly without it neither Tesla nor SpaceX would be where they are today.
     
  7. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I deal with stuff like this frequently in the medical device world. Technically, yes - if we fix a problem in the field (via an over the wire software update or a technician visit ) it is considered a (field) recall by the FDA and notifications COULD technically call it that.

    However, the problem I've dealt with is that when you notify customers of a recall and they don't have to actually DO anything, it's extremely confusing. Confusing isn't good. So typically I've been able to negotiate with FDA to rename the action to something like 'Field Action' or 'Important Notification' so that we reduce any possibility of wrong action. Because while your definition is correct, the common interpretation is that 'a product is being recalled back to it's original manufactured location for replacement'. And if we've already successfully updated the product remotely or you've sent the new part or the tech has already shown up, and you call it a recall each time, then you run the risk of desensitizing people to when you DO need them to do something.

    I like to save the word 'recall' for those instances. Much cleaner, less confusion with the public, etc. In this particular case with Tesla, I would have thought 'Field Action' would have been more descriptive of what was happening and less likely to cause all the media confusion.
     
  8. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I see where I failed here. I didn't convey the snark that was clearly intended behind the subject.

    Even people with chutzpah need to hold their tongue.
     
  9. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I could definitely agree with this.
     
  10. Sunnyday

    Sunnyday Member

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    #10 Sunnyday, Jan 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
    No doubt, Elon is brilliant, but his PR strategy is not always. Bad press is bad press. It's harmful. His public wordsmithing over the meaning of "recall" is only putting the word pair "Tesla" and "Recall" into more headlines. More people read headlines than read stories, which means the net perception effect of such stories is probably negative to their reputation. Elon's protestations based on specious statistics is also setting up the company for increased risk of public humiliation and criticism when the next fire happens. In the Bloomberg story above, see this paragraph:

    The Model S has only been on the road a short time, yet the average ICE vehicle has been on the road for maybe 2-3X (?) longer, so his claim of 1/10,000 is misleading. A better measure would be fires per million miles driven. This is the measure he used in the first blog post on the fire at Model S Fire | Blog | Tesla Motors where the stats at that time allowed him to claim the MS was 5 times less likely to experience a fire. But by making such a bold claim then, he risked being disproven the moment another fire occurred, and that's what happened. With two more fires under their belts, they're somewhere in 2X territory. Still great, but not what was claimed back in October.

    He claims in the press that there have been no deaths or serious injuries to MS drivers or passengers. While this is probably true, and as a MS owner it gives me great peace of mind, sadly it won't be true forever. How will they handle the first death? Will Elon then claim that a person is 5 or 10x less likely to die in a Tesla than in an ICE car, only to have that stat drop to 4X, 3x or whatever. He's in a tough position here. If it's not handled right, the media will write stories that give the unfair perception that Teslas are unsafe. These are some bumps in the road Tesla cannot avoid.

    Since Tesla's installed base is so small, they run the risk that an unlikely spate of fires or multiple fatalities - even if not the fault of the car - could cause the stats to flip in such a way that it undermines all of Tesla's safety claims.

    If I were Elon's PR advisor, I'd tell him to start balancing every statement of no-deaths, no-serious-injuries with an expectation setting statement such as, "but although we celebrate our outstanding safety record to date, the law of numbers says this will not always be the case. In the meantime, we will spare no effort to make the Model S one of the safest cars on the road." Note my use of "one of." Although their goal is probably to be the safest, that's a tough spot to hold forever so there's no need to set themselves up for failure.
     
  11. ZBB

    ZBB Emperor

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    I don't understand why everyone is so upset about this...

    The facts are that NHTSA has issued a recall on the Model S for this issue. The resolution from Tesla includes both a software update and a hardware fix/update.

    Yes, it's also true that Tesla didn't use "recall" when they announced the fix and revised adapter. But they stated that NHTSA was notified at the end of that press release. NHTSA then reviewed the info and formally issued the recall earlier this week -- and news sites then picked up on this...

    Tesla is no obligate to perform the software update and provide the new adapters under the recall -- even though they were voluntarily doing it anyway...
     
  12. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    #12 Krugerrand, Jan 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
    Whose snark? Your friends for the title of their e-mail? That was clearly understood by me. Or the snark of Mr. Plungis' article. I understood that as well. Or the snark of Elon Musk? Also understood. Snark is usually the result of fear.

    In hindsight it can appear that holding one's tongue would have resulted in a better outcome, but that's always a matter of personal opinion and guesswork. But why look back, when looking forward is the desired direction? To learn from past mistakes? Okay, but that's only useful if you believe you've made a mistake the first time around. Clearly Elon Musk doesn't view his 'way with words' as a mistake.

    I prize honesty of thought and feelings above most things because it's too often lacking in humans nowadays, especially those in positions of power.
     
  13. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    #13 JRP3, Jan 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
    I believe similar wording has indeed been used by Tesla, most recently at the auto show by Jerome.
    Speaking to Musk's statements about the "recall", I think he did the right thing. There is now a real question among many if this really was a recall or not, and the extra exposure has created a more thorough discussion about what actions were actually taken. In the absence of Elon's statements all that would be out there in the media is "Tesla faces recall". I think Musk played this quite well.
     
  14. Trnsl8r

    Trnsl8r Blue 85kwh since 12/8/12

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    Well, there is the issue of the new 14-50 adapter. I'm going to guess that they're not sending out new ones so the owners will have an extra one. They're sending them out to replace the ones we have - so we won't use the original one. In my mind, even though it doesn't sound like they'll request the old one in return (right?), this is essentially a recall (of the 14-50 adapter).
     
  15. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    It is a well known fact that the friction between certain types of underwear and other clothes can cause static electricity buildup and when you refuel your car at a gas station, a spark can ignite the fumes and cause a fire. (See Mythbusters).

    * Gas station don't do anything about it. You're the one causing the spark - your problem.
    * Underwear company don't do anything it. Not an intended use of the underwear.
    * Can't expect any car company to do anything about it. That type of accident can happen randomly even when you fill up other things such as leaf blowers.

    But there is ONE responsible car company cares about the day to day safety of its customers beyond just its cars. So it installs a little piece of metal around the doorframe, so that at least in their cars it would discharge any static electricity you may have on your body as you get out.

    Voila - no more gas station fires when you drive a car like this! Car company should be applauded for its actions and copied. Instead, the fault now gets uniquely attributed to ONLY that type of car, and that car company gets punished by being forced to call their helpful idea a recall.


    How can we expect any company to be a conscientious and responsible corporate citizen in a cynical world like this?
     
  16. jcaspar

    jcaspar Member

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    And in the news, about the over 50,000 BMW motorcycles recalled 4 weeks ago for potential fuel leaks and fires, we hear nothing....
     
  17. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    NHTSA did not recall anything. Tesla notified NHTSA of its adapter recall, which was simply entered into NHTSA's database. The recall originated with Tesla, not NHTSA, and this is not an NHTSA mandated recall. The NHTSA database entry states this is a vehicle recall, which is absolutely and totally inaccurate. The recall of an external charging adapter is not a vehicle recall. That would be like GM replacing crowbars in their cars because their crowbars had a high risk of breaking and injuring the owner. That would be a crowbar recall, not a vehicle recall. The same is true of the Model S UMC adapters.

    I am very glad that Musk is challenging our government regulators, and he should. The suggestion that Musk is inviting retribution from NHTSA in itself shows that this agency is more interested in politics than actual safety. If NHTSA does act in retribution by recalling Model S over the battery fires, I hope Tesla sues.
     
  18. Discoducky

    Discoducky Active Member

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  19. Jeeps17

    Jeeps17 Cath Jockey in a P85

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  20. Rainbow

    Rainbow Member

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