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Tesla recalls Cybertruck over sticky problem. Blame it on — yes — soap

Newly manufactured Tesla Cybertrucks are parked outside the company's Giga Texas factory on December 13, 2023, in Austin, Texas.
Suzanne Cordeiro
AFP via Getty Images
Newly manufactured Tesla Cybertrucks are parked outside the company's Giga Texas factory on December 13, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

Tesla is recalling the new Cybertruck to fix a defective pedal pad that could cause accelerator pedals to get stuck in the depressed position, raising the risk of a crash.

Specifically, when someone stomps on the accelerator, the pad can come off and get trapped in a bit of trim.

That would leave the accelerator stuck in the "on" position — something that has happened at least twice. When a driver hits the brake pedal, the truck will stop even if the accelerator is depressed. No injuries or crashes have been reported.

The problem, as Tesla reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, originated on production lines with soap.

"An unapproved change introduced lubricant (soap) to aid in the component assembly," the reportsays.

Evidently, workers used soap to help get the pad into place on the pedal. Traces of that slippery soap remained, hence the problem.

The recall involves all 3,878 of the aesthetically-divisive angular trucks that have been sold so far. While some Tesla recalls are for software fixes that can be issued over-the-air, meaning a vehicle downloads an update without a trip to a mechanic, this one is a physical defect. It requires a physical repair.

This is the second soap-related manufacturing process to make headlines this month. A Boeing supplier recently defendedthe use of Dawn dish soap as lubricant in assembling door seals in manufacturing jets like the one that lost a door mid-flight.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Cybertruck, a vehicle with an extremely unusual manufacturing process, has also faced complaints since its launch about problems with rust and potentially finger-pinching trunks.

Tesla, the company that shook up the auto industry by profitably making mass electric vehicles, has warned investors it's "between" periods of growth. After poor sales last quarter and layoffs of more than 10% of global staff, executives will talk to investors on a regularly scheduled quarterly earnings call next week.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Domonoske
Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.