NHTSA Probes Lucid’s Software Fix for Defroster Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into a January Lucid Motors windshield defroster recall over concerns that the automaker’s software update solution may not adequately fix the problem.

Lucid issued a recall on January 10 for 2,042 of its 2022-2023 Air electric sedans because the high-voltage coolant heater (HVCH) may fail to defrost the windshield.

In Safety Recall Report 24V-011, the company told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the loss of adequate windshield defrost capability could lead to a restricted driver field of vision and an increased risk of a crash, the company said in an NHTSA report.

“If an HVCH fails, coolant cannot be heated, and the windshield cannot be defrosted. Loss of adequate windshield defrost capability could lead to restricted driver field of vision and an increased risk of a crash,” the January 10 notice says.

In most recalls, vehicle owners return to a dealership to have the authorized repairs done, but as vehicles rely more and more on onboard technology, automakers have turned to over-the-air software updates.

To fix the heater problem, Lucid planned to issue a software update identifying any HVCH failure when it occurs, which then provides a notification on the glass cockpit panel about the lack of defrost capability and advises the owner to contact Lucid for an HVCH replacement.

Software update notifies the driver when the HVCH experiences a delamination failure and advises the driver to have the unit serviced.

However, on February 8, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects (OOD) expressed concern that “by only providing a notification to drivers that their windshield defroster is not working, Lucid puts the driver in a situation where they could experience the failure during the same drive cycle as they receive the notification.

“In this scenario, the driver is not aware they have a failed HVCH until they are operating the vehicle and need the defrost function prior to being able to have the vehicle serviced,” the OOD says.

Jaguar Land Rover faced a similar issue with the same make of the heater in its I-Pace electric SUV. But in a July 27, 2023 recall, RCLRPT-23V518-9791, the company said it would alert all 668 affected owners and replace the part for free.

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