China says Tesla to fix software for 1.1 million cars due to brake problem

BEIJING, May 12 (Reuters) – China’s market regulator said Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) will fix software in more than 1 million vehicles to reduce the chance of accidents, the regulator said on Friday.

The action is described as a recall of products under Chinese regulations, the regulator said, but it was not immediately clear whether drivers would need to, or would be eligible, to return vehicles to Tesla for a refund.

Starting May 29, the U.S. automaker will issue over-the-air software updates to 1.1 million units of its Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y cars, both imported and China-made, the State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement.

The regulator said the affected vehicles did not allow drivers to turn off regenerative braking or provide enough warnings when drivers stepped hard on the gas pedal, which together could increase the risk of a crash.

The update will restore the ability to turn off regenerative braking and warn drivers when they step hard on the gas pedal, it added.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

Regenerative braking works to save energy from the process of braking a car, feeding the excess to batteries to increase range. Tesla had disabled the option to turn off the technology on cars produced after 2020.

Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles are seen during a delivery event at the factory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

“I view a ‘recall’ of a software update as fairly mild compared to large recalls where customers have to take their cars in for service to fix an equipment problem,” said Morningstar analyst Seth Goldstein.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that it is “aware of the recall in China and is gathering more information from the manufacturer.”

Some consumers in China welcomed the technology, also known as one-pedal driving, as it enabled them to bring a vehicle to a complete stop without using the brake pedal.

However, others complained that it could confuse drivers and increase the risk of missteps on the gas pedal.

Chinese police have been investigating an accident involving a Model Y car in which a motorcyclist and a high school girl died and three people were injured when the driver lost control of the vehicle last November.

At the time, Tesla said videos showed the car’s brake lights were not on while it was speeding, and data showed problems such as no action to apply the brakes throughout the journey.

Tesla shares fell about 1.3% on Friday in New York.

Reporting from the Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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