NHTSA Concludes Probe into Tesla's 'Passenger Play': No Recall Sought, Concerns Remain

By Kevin Armstrong
NHTSA closes its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature
NHTSA closes its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature
Cf Tesla/YouTube

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded its investigation into Tesla's 'Passenger Play' feature, stating it will not pursue a recall of the scrutinized vehicles. Passenger Play allowed passengers in the vehicle to play certain games like the Sky Force Reloaded while the vehicle was in motion. Tesla was quick to respond to NHTSA's concerns and issued an update that requires the vehicle to be in park before games can be launched.

The closure of the probe comes amidst continuing concerns over the potential for driver distraction.

Investigation Ends, Still Leaves Room for Future Actions

While NHTSA's conclusion signifies a milestone in Tesla's ongoing scrutiny, it does not entirely absolve the electric vehicle maker. The administration emphasized that the end of the investigation does not mean a safety-related defect doesn't exist. Furthermore, the NHTSA's decision opens the possibility for future action if additional concerns arise.

NHTSA's apprehensions were primarily rooted in Tesla's decision to allow video games to be played on the front center touchscreen of the vehicle while in motion. Having acknowledged these concerns, Tesla voluntarily took action by disabling the 'Passenger Play' feature through an over-the-air software update soon after NHTSA launched its investigation in December 2021.

Tesla's Voluntary Disabling of Feature Commended

The administration confirmed that Tesla reported a 97% completion rate of the software update disabling 'Passenger Play', within a month of its release. The agency lauded Tesla's swift action, which showcased a responsible approach toward ensuring driver safety and mitigating distractions. This action appeared to significantly address NHTSA's concerns, as the agency cited the importance of "affirmative technology-based lockouts" as more effective than merely using labels or disclaimer screens.

Ongoing Scrutiny of Tesla's Autopilot System

Despite the conclusion of this specific probe, Tesla remains under the lens of the NHTSA, which is currently investigating Autopilot. The investigation, covering approximately 830,000 Tesla vehicles, aims to understand better human factors concerning Tesla interfaces and the dynamic driving task.

A History of Safety First

Tesla has always portrayed itself as an automaker that prioritizes safety. From advanced driver assist systems to top-tier safety ratings, the electric car manufacturer has consistently sought to revolutionize transportation safety norms. The swift action in disabling the controversial 'Passenger Play' feature further underscores the company's commitment to road safety and user well-being.

Tesla’s case serves as a potent reminder for all automakers that in-vehicle infotainment devices must balance entertainment and safety. In 2014, the NHTSA issued guidelines encouraging automakers to design in-vehicle devices so the driver can’t use them to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving. As the lines between automobiles and technology blur, the importance of these guidelines will only grow.

Although the 'Passenger Play' investigation has concluded, Tesla’s journey with the NHTSA is far from over. The ongoing probe into Tesla’s Autopilot system indicates that the auto giant will remain under close watch to ensure the highest levels of safety for users and fellow road users alike.

Cybertruck Deliveries Halted Due to Accelerator Pedal Issue

By Kevin Armstrong

Tesla has informed several Cybertruck reservation holders of delays in their delivery schedules. Several notifications were posted on the Cybertruck Owner’s Club, stating the need to postpone scheduled deliveries due to an "unexpected delay" without initially providing detailed explanations to customers.

Technical Issues Identified

However, that is where the Tesla community steps in. More posts on X and the Cybertruck Owner’s Forum revealed that the delays are linked to a design issue with the accelerator pedal of the Cybertruck. Unlike Tesla's other models, which feature a hanging accelerator pedal, the Cybertruck uses a floor-mounted design. This design requires the driver to apply forward and upward motion pressure.

It has been determined that the cover of the accelerator pedal can shift out of its designated position when subjected to excessive force. This malfunction has been attributed to the presence of lubricant residues left over from the manufacturing process.

Remedial Actions and Future Plans

Tesla has temporarily halted the delivery of all Cybertrucks and is currently working on a solution to redesign the pedal cover to eliminate lubricant residue. The new, improved covers are expected to be ready by April 19. Tesla plans to replace the faulty components in existing Cybertrucks at Service Centers shortly thereafter.

The company anticipates resuming Cybertruck deliveries on April 20, also known as 4-20. However, due to the pause in deliveries and the time required to distribute the new parts, some customers might experience further delays. Tesla is preparing for a staggered delivery schedule initially due to the limited availability of the newly designed pedal covers.

Despite these setbacks, Tesla continues to scale up the production of the Cybertruck at its Gigafactory in Austin, Texas. Recent aerial footage indicates that production rates have been nearing 1,000 units per week. The Cybertruck has also been featured in promotional events across several countries, including a stop at the Boston Marathon, showcasing its unique design and capabilities.

Tesla Reduces Price of FSD Subscription to $99 Per Month [Subscriptions Now Available in Canada Too!]

By Not a Tesla App Staff

Tesla just dropped its FSD subscription pricing dramatically in the U.S., lowering the cost from $199 to $99 per month. However, not everyone is thrilled with the new pricing.

For owners who bought the Enhanced Autopilot package for $6,000 USD, Tesla offered a lower-priced FSD subscription of $99, instead of $199. However, with this new FSD price reduction, EAP owners are no longer receiving a discount.

FSD Subscription Expansion

Currently, the FSD subscription is only available in the U.S., but plans for expansion are underway. Tesla's Rohan Patel recently announced that the subscription will soon be available in Canada, alongside the introduction of an annual plan for Premium Connectivity. 

This expansion into the Canadian market is anticipated to follow a similar pricing strategy, adjusted for the currency exchange rate, possibly setting the cost at approximately $140 CAD per month.

Update: Tesla has just announced that FSD subscriptions are now available in Canada! What’s even more surprising is the unexpectedly low subscription price of $99 CAD. Tesla took to X to announce the availability in Canada but unfortunately didn’t reveal any additional information regarding the subscriptions.

Is Buying FSD Still Worth It?

Despite the lowered subscription price, the outright purchase price for FSD remains steep at $12,000. This price point equates to subscribing to the service for over 10 years. Given that the average length of car ownership in the U.S. is about 8 years, this makes the current price of buying FSD unattractive to most. The saving grace of buying FSD is that you know what you're paying for the life of the vehicle and can avoid any potential subscription price increases.

Temporary Reduction or Long-term Strategy?

Tesla has not confirmed whether the price reduction is a temporary promotional tactic or a permanent adjustment. The timing coincides with Tesla's release of FSD v12 and its trial offer, suggesting that the company is keen on encouraging more drivers to experience FSD. This approach not only boosts user engagement but also accelerates the volume of data Tesla can collect to improve the system.

FSD With Referral Credits

Although Tesla hasn't adjusted the price of buying FSD, it is tweaking its referral program to accommodate the new price. Three months of FSD are now available through Tesla's referral program for 6,000 credits, reduced from the previous 12,000 credits.

Tesla's reduction in FSD in the U.S. and its planned expansion into Canada reflect a strategic initiative to make FSD more accessible and financially attractive to a broader audience. There's no doubt this change will increase the number of FSD subscriptions, but it'll be interesting to see how much. To break even, Tesla would need to double the number of subscriptions, but they likely have their eyes set much higher.

If you currently subscribe to FSD, Tesla has automatically reduced future payments to the lower $99 price point.

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