The California transport agency has also launched an investigation into complaints of luxury car noise in recent months
The US transportation department has launched a probe into Tesla’s Model 3 after receiving hundreds of complaints about a loud, muffled exhaust and potential engine noise.
The California department of transportation (Caltrans) – which is also investigating how a crash that killed a Tesla driver earlier this year might have been prevented – said on Tuesday that it had contacted the electric car maker to see if Tesla had issued a recall.
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“Tesla has contacted us to inquire about their so-called ‘intolerable noise’ product and we intend to request that Tesla issue a voluntary recall,” department spokesman Mike Blume said in a statement.
Tesla shares were up 0.6% in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. They have slumped 18% since early November as concerns about the carmaker’s outlook for the Model 3, whose all-important US market began deliveries last month, have mounted.
Tesla has not responded to a request for comment.
There have been 784 complaints to Tesla about the issue between October and November, the agency said.
A Tesla Model 3 at a Tesla store in Palo Alto, California. Photograph: Noah Berger/Reuters
In a statement emailed to Reuters, Caltrans said it would send a representative to a Tesla facility to inspect the vehicle and propose a resolution if it deemed one was necessary. Caltrans then would have to call Tesla to take further action and, in the worst case, install a recall, Blume said.
Tesla responded by saying the root cause was in Tesla’s software and that the company had been working to resolve it as fast as possible. “Tesla and Caltrans have agreed that whatever Tesla provides to the agency will address the issue,” the company said.
Tesla has tried to assure investors and customers that the production and ramp-up of the Model 3 have exceeded its estimates and exceeded the most bullish Wall Street expectations.
The company is widely expected to report strong earnings next week but still faces challenges, including raising fresh funds.
On Monday, Tesla reached an agreement with the federal government to increase a cap on how much money it could collect to drive its clean-energy vehicles into the mainstream.