NHTSA considering Tesla battery software investigation
The agency is reviewing a petition that claims the OTA update should have been handled as a safety recall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing an investigation petition that focuses on Tesla's over-the-air software update that caused some cars to lose range.
"The Petitioner alleges that the software updates were in response to a potential defect that could result in non-crash fires in the affected battery packs and that Tesla should have notified NHTSA of the existence of this potential defect and conducted a safety recall," the agency's investigation notice says.
The OTA update rolled out in the wake of a Model S battery fire in a Shanghai parking garage. Tesla has acknowledged that a "small percentage of owners" may experience a reduction in range after the update, which is "designed to improve battery longevity."
The company was recently hit with a lawsuit that appears to match the claims in the NHTSA petition. The suit claims the automaker erred in using range-reducing software tweaks to shirk responsibility, arguing that the company has an obligation to repair or replace defective batteries.
The NHTSA is still reviewing the petition and four related complaints before deciding if an official investigation is warranted.