Tesla’s Model S touchscreen probed by U.S. safety regulator

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(Bloomberg) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating premature failures of the large central touchscreen and the computer that powers it in Tesla Inc. Model S sedans to determine how frequently they break down and whether they pose a safety risk.

The agency has received 11 complaints from drivers about the issue in the last 13 months, none of which alleged a crash or an injury, according a notice posted on the agency’s website. A failure of the touchscreen and its computer results in the loss of features including navigation, web browsing and the car’s rear-view camera, though it does not affect steering, braking or acceleration.

The flash memory in a processor supplied by Nvidia Corp. can wear out, causing the computer controlling the touchscreen to fail prematurely, according to the notice. While the same computer and Nvidia processor was used in roughly 159,000 Tesla vehicles from the 2012 through 2018 model years, the investigation covers about 63,000 Model S sedans only from model years 2012 to 2015.

Emails seeking comment from Tesla and Nvidia sent early Wednesday were not immediately returned. Tesla shares traded down 2.4% as of 9:55 a.m. in New York, while Nvidia slipped 0.3%.

The probe was reported earlier Wednesday by the Associated Press.

Bloomberg News