New Edition of Tesla Model May be Banned in Australia After Safety Rating Withheld

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Australia’s national vehicle safety agency has some concerns regarding the latest edition of the Tesla Model 3.

The latest edition of a Tesla model may be banned from being sold in Australia after the nation’s vehicle safety agency refused to issue a rating for it. 

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has halted the ratings process for the new version of the Tesla Model 3, which was officially made available for order in the United States on Jan. 10. 

Unlike its predecessor version, which was granted a five star rating, ANCAP has declined to issue a rating for the newly-facelifted edition based on information provided by Tesla.

ANCAP’s announcement comes just a week after the car was placed under investigation for breaching Australian national automotive regulation because of absent access to a child-seat top-tether anchor point, a requirement for certification as a five-seat passenger vehicle. 

The tether point was previously present in the model’s early versions but is absent from the latest facelift.

The updated Tesla Model 3 was rolled out in Australia for deliveries in December 2023.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication, and Art (DITRDCA) has maintained the organisation’s interest in investigating the matter. 

“The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts is aware of concerns regarding the child restraint anchorage points in the 2024 Tesla Model 3 and is looking into this matter,” a DITRDCA spokesperson told journalists. 

“Road safety is a top priority of the Australian government. That is why we have legislated road vehicle standards in place to ensure all road vehicles, both new and used, being provided to the Australian market for the first time meet critical national standards for safety, security, and emissions.”

If found to have violated national vehicle compliance rules by the DITRDCA investigation, Tesla Australia may have to discontinue the sale of the facelifted model and recall all deliveries that have been made to customers since its Australasian release in December 2023. 

If such a verdict is reached, Tesla will be the second electric vehicle (EV) automaker in the past 18 months to have contravened Australian automotive safety requirements. 

The BYD Atto 3 Model was in 2022 found to have breached the same seatbelt requirement as Tesla, prompting the issuance of a stop-delivery notice. Vehicles delivered prior to the breach were recalled so they could be brought back into compliance by remaneuvering the tether points. 

Safety Issues

The EV rollout in Australia has faced a number of hurdles surrounding safety concerns. 

In December 2023, Chinese EV manufacturer Great Wall Motor (GYM) issued a recall notice for its Ora model due to a potentially fatal mechanical fault found in the vehicle’s charging facilities. 

“Due to a programming issue, if the operator removes the charging cable without cancelling the charge, an electrical arc between the charging plug and the vehicle may occur,” the official Australian government notice reads. 

“If an electrical arc comes into contact with the operator or bystanders it will increase the risk of serious injury or death.”

The recall notice applied to 1,659 models sold across Australia.

In November 2023, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued a safety alert stating that EVs pose significant risks related to high-intensity fires, high-voltage shocks, and gas explosions when put onboard ferries.

In their statement, AMSA specifically notes the flammable nature of the lithium-ion batteries used in the majority of EVs and their capacity for spontaneous thermal runaway fires. 

AMSA also noted the toxicity of the hydrogen fluoride fumes given off by the lithium-ion battery fires. 

EV Rollout Steams Ahead

Australia’s EV transition has, however, continued to accelerate in the face of these concerns. 

According to an analysis conducted by consulting firm Next System, EV charging sites are projected to double again throughout 2024 following record growth in 2023. 

According to Next System’s report, the number of EV charging stations surged 90 percent in 2023. 

Similarly, global consulting firm Mckinsey & Company forecasts sixfold growth in worldwide demand over the course of the decade, with sales jumping from 6.5 million in 2021 to approximately 40 million by 2030. 

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