US security agency discusses replacement of Tesla cameras

A Tesla logo on a Model S is pictured inside a Tesla dealership in New York, the United States, April 29, 2016. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson / File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (Reuters) – The United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Thursday that it is discussing with Tesla (TSLA.O) its decision to replace the cameras on certain U.S. vehicles.

CNBC reported Monday that Tesla was replacing front fender cameras in several hundred Model S, X and 3 vehicles due to faulty circuit boards inside, but had not issued a recall.

The NHTSA said it was “monitoring all sources of data,” including consumer complaints, and also urged “the public to notify NHTSA if they believe their vehicle may have a safety defect that does not part of an ongoing recall “.

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US law “prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design flaws posing unreasonable safety risks,” the agency said, adding that it has “robust enforcement tools to protect the public, for investigate potential safety issues and act when we find evidence of non-compliance or unreasonable safety risk. “

Consumer groups have said the regulator needs to determine whether Tesla should have recalled the defective parts.

“Reports of a repair campaign on faulty front cameras that are essential to Tesla’s driver assistance suite are important enough to vehicle safety to warrant exploration by NHTSA,” said Jason K. Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. .

“The reality is that the auto industry has a long history of choosing to conduct service campaigns instead of recalls, but it is too early to tell if that is the case here.”

A malfunction of the front fender cameras, the security systems used for blind spot monitoring, would likely create a security risk, said David Friedman, former acting NHTSA executive and now vice president of Consumer Reports.

“If people lose reliable access to blind spot images, or if the effectiveness of the autopilot or automatic emergency braking is hampered, the malfunction would appear to pose an unreasonable risk,” he said.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

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Reporting by David Shepardson and Hyunjoo Jin; edited by Diane Craft and David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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