Two Tesla owners have reported that the steering wheel fell off their cars while driving in the latest safety row to hit Elon Musk’s company.
The Model Y vehicles were reportedly delivered without the bolt that fixes the wheel to the steering column, according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is investigating the claims.
In both cases, the steering wheels were held to the rest of the car only with friction and were detached when the wheel was gripped during motion.
The NHTSA investigation is focused on around 120,089 cars from the 2023 model year.
The Model Y, which costs £44,990 and up, is Tesla’s top-selling car. One owner who said the wheel had come off while his family was in the car in January described it as a “horrific experience” and that he had only safely been able to come to a stop because there was no car behind him.
Prerak Patel, who posted photos of the steering wheel coming loose on the Highway 1 motorway in New Jersey, said his newly delivered car had to be towed away and was replaced by the company.
The NHTSA said it had opened the investigation in recent days after two reports of the problem affecting low-mileage cars. Tesla shares fell slightly in pre-market trading in New York.
The Model Y family car is the most popular among Tesla’s four models in production and was the third best-selling car in the UK last year, with 35,551 registrations.
Britain’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency was contacted for comment, although Model Ys produced in Britain are manufactured in China, while those sold in the US are manufactured at Tesla’s American facilities.
The NHTSA said its investigation would look at the manufacturing processes that had led to the defect and how common the problem was. It is the latest in a series of regulatory blows for Tesla.
The Daily Telegraph, London