Tesla’s Product Management Mishap – Company Recalls Over 2,700 Model X SUV’s

Owners of Model X vehicles were warned in an email sent out on Monday to avoid using the third-row seats and instead bring their cars into their local Tesla service center to arrange a free installation of new seats. Jon McNeil, Tesla’s President of Sales and Service has assured that there have been no issues with the vehicle in the field, yet Tesla errs on the side of caution when it comes to its customers’ safety.  

On the one hand – we witness here a case of product management gone wrong. On the other hand, I believe one can not ignore the clever way in which the company handled their mistake, and claimed responsibility.


What’s the issue?

In about 2,700 models that were manufactured before March 26th, the third-row seats have a faulty latch that could fail in a crash. Tesla said that although they had previously passed 15 tests which met U.S. standards, the latch failed in a test to meet European standards.


How will this affect production?

Tesla has stated that the issue is a result of a flaw made by an outside supplier of automobile seats.  However, Tesla’s tests in North America showed no signs of a failure. The company’s spokesperson has reassured that production will not be affected by the recall and will continue sending out over 750 Model X’s a week from the plant.

Biting off more than you can chew

In 2010 Tesla recalled their Roadster models 2.0 and 2.5. In 2014 they recalled about 30,000 Model S adapters. In 2015 Tesla recalled almost 90,000 Model S cars. With over 300,000 orders put in for the Model 3, one can only wonder where things went wrong, and whether product managers in Tesla were too eager to release and missed a few necessary steps prior to launch. This list of mishaps make Tesla looke like a company that bites off more than they can chew. In the automobile industry this is not an image one wants to adopt. 

Only question is – will customers appreciate the way Tesla handled the problem, or choose to not take another risk.


Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.