Tesla Inc. recalled virtually every car it’s sold in China due to a braking and acceleration defect that may increase crash and safety risks.
The automaker will deploy an over-the-air software fix to more than 1.1 million vehicles produced in Shanghai from January 2019 to April this year, plus some models imported into China, the State Administration for Market Regulation said Friday in a statement.
The defect relates to Tesla’s regenerative braking system, which makes use of energy created when drivers take their foot off the accelerator by sending power to the car’s battery. The vehicles haven’t allowed drivers to set the intensity of their regenerative braking and don’t alert drivers when they’ve stepped on the accelerator for a long time, which raises the probability of pedal misapplication, China’s regulator said.
The software fix will enable drivers to set the intensity of their regenerative braking and adjust the factory default state of the system. The company’s cars also will start notifying drivers when they’ve pressed the accelerator for an extended period.
Tesla representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The carmaker’s shares rose 1.3% as of 5 a.m. Friday in New York, before the start of regular trading.
Read More: Why EV Makers Should Worry About Unintended Acceleration
Tesla sold around 1.13 million cars in China from 2014 through March, according to data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center and Bloomberg Intelligence.
The company has come under fire in China several times due to drivers claiming there were issues with acceleration and braking in their cars.
In perhaps the most high-profile case, a Model 3 owner climbed atop a Tesla display vehicle at the 2021 Shanghai auto show and yelled that her father almost died when he was driving the sedan because its brakes failed. The protest was captured on camera, went viral and made international headlines.
Tesla eventually issued a public apology after facing criticism from local authorities and state-run media, without acknowledging any defect. The company later released data logs of the vehicle showing it was traveling at 118.5 kilometers per hour (74 miles per hour) just before impact.
Related: Tesla Releases Data Logs From Car Involved in China Crash
A separate incident in November 2022 involved a fatal crash with a Model Y sport utility vehicle. Tesla again said the incident wasn’t caused by a malfunction, pointing to data taken from the car showing no proof the brake pedal had been applied before the crash, and video that showed the brake lights remained off. The accelerator was heavily engaged in the lead up to the crash, which killed a motorcyclist and high school student on a bicycle.
While regulators have studied pedal-misapplication incidents for decades, the issue rose to the fore with Toyota Motor Corp.’s unintended-acceleration recalls beginning in 2009.
Unintended acceleration could become more common and acute with electric vehicles, which lack the noise of a revving engine that could lead a driver to more quickly realize they have pressed the wrong pedal. Stepping on the accelerator of an EV also produces almost instant torque, leading vehicles to take off quicker than gasoline cars.
China is a hugely important market for Tesla both as a source of production and sales. Revenue from the country climbed to more than $18 billion last year, more than six times what the company generated in 2019.
The Austin, Texas-based automaker has an EV factory on the outskirts of Shanghai that produced almost 711,000 cars last year, more than half its worldwide output.