By Joris Evers
As many as 545 Model S sedans were made without safety shields in the front, according to data analysis
See also: Model 3 teaser video
Almost 500 Model S sedans made by Tesla in the second half of 2017 lacked protections meant to protect drivers in a crash, a US safety agency has found.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that Model S cars made during the three-month period had holes in the space between the pillars that hold the car to the wall and the windshield — a design flaw that could let a collision do more damage.
However, it says it doesn’t have reason to believe the cars have safety hazards as a result. Tesla said Thursday that the hole-riddled frontal facia of many of its vehicles are a result of the car manufacturer’s use of different materials.
Tesla said the 2.6m holes, while not unique to the Model S, could have made driving a Model S more difficult. The company said the holes were simply uneven and could make the car slide.
“Given this, drivers would not have been able to correctly judge angle for this situation, causing them to accidentally flip their Model S on its side,” Tesla said in a statement.
NHTSA began collecting reports of missing sides in Model S vehicles in December 2016. As many as 545 Model S sedans made during the first half of 2017 had holes in the space between the pillars that hold the car to the wall and the windshield — a design flaw that could let a collision do more damage.
Tesla said Thursday that it has addressed the hole-riddled facia by putting metal pieces over the holes to minimize bumping the driver into the wall or windshield.
A safety agency in France told CNNMoney on Thursday that NHTSA was seeking information on the Model S defect from its French counterpart.
In a statement, NHTSA said it used crash test data from 2010 to 2015 to determine whether the holes pose a safety hazard, before determining that there is no safety issue.
The US agency says it received 354 reports of Model S with the hole-riddled front facia. Among other Model S vehicles made in 2017, NHTSA received 270 reports that the feature was on. NHTSA says it now has 710 preliminary evaluation reports for 2018 Model S (Model X 2018) with the hole-riddled front facia.
The complaints are minor and not deemed necessarily to represent a safety issue, the agency said.
Tesla said in a statement that the holes are simply uneven.
“When a vehicle’s front grill is created by concrete, this uneven surface will leave these very sharp holes in a gap about a third of an inch in diameter,” said the company. “Because all Tesla vehicles are built to be made out of tough, high quality materials, we expect these additional images will be just one more wave of variation before the surface completes its natural smoothness.”
Tesla has hundreds of thousands of Model S and Model X cars out in the wild, and roughly 700,000 customers who have already reserved the cars.
The NHTSA says it plans to investigate other reported rear overlap front and side crash defects.
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.