In a letter sent to Tesla Wednesday, the safety agency said the failures could pose safety risks. These include the loss of the backup camera image when in reverse and possible impact on the Autopilot feature (via Globe & Mail).
The request comes after the NHTSA announced last year it was investigating the Media Control Unit (MCU1) failures on approximately 63,000 Model S/X vehicles built between 2012 and 2015. In an update later in the year, the NHTSA expanded the scope to include more than 158,000 vehicles built between 2012 and 2018.
In its update, the agency said its investigation was entering the engineering phase, which would look into the scope and safety-related consequences of the failures. It appears that investigation has found enough evidence to request a recall.
It is important to note that the blank touchscreen does not affect steering, acceleration, or braking, and no accidents have been reported as a result of the failure.
Before the NHTSA announced it was continuing its investigation, the automaker took the pre-emptive step to offer owners who experience issues free replacements of the impacted parts. The policy change was also retroactive, as owners who have already had to pay out of pocket for the repairs may be eligible for a reimbursement early this year.
Tesla also introduced a new feature that warned owners of an impending failure of the embedded Multi-Media-Card (eMMC).
Tesla (TSLA) shares dropped by more than 1% in after-hours trading after the news was announced.