back to article 'Boombox' function sparks Tesla recall

An external speaker function in 578,607 Teslas will be disabled by the electric vehicle manufacturer this month after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it interfered with safety standards. In late 2020, Tesla firmware enabled the "Boombox" feature, which "allows a customer to play preset or …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine, just get rid of the stupid noisemaker entirely.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQyIr9-36XM

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pull the driving records of everyone who touched any of the software of the car. If any have DUI's and such, sue!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. The idea that cars should be noisy is amazingly short-sighted and only contributes to increasing noise pollution. Surely there are other non Darwinian ways to increase pedestrian safety?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your link isn't GDPR compliant

    https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/kQyIr9-36XM

    But knowing Google's modus operandi, this might not be much better.

  3. Martin Summers

    How long before they order them to issue an OTA update to stop the car from driving at all due to a critical safety issue...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The press has really gone all in on these headlines

    I mean, the Reg LOVES an overhyped headline. It's just there style.

    But so many Tesla articles amount to reading the patch notes of the routine over the air updates and then trying to spin them into the same level as an exploding Ford Pinto. Save the hysterics for when the brakes stop working again, so that people don't just ignore you when there IS a wolf.

    I get the big auto manufacturers are trying to get Tesla to stumble and waste their engineering lead like Nokia did back in the day, but seriously, most cars have these kinds of faults, and many aren't even fixed with a software update. The self drive on my cars only saving grace is that it is so obviously useless I've never trusted anything but the adaptive cruise control. It doesn't even MAKE a pedestrian warning sound, let alone let you customize it, and that could be done via an on air update(which the car CAN do, but the maker has only issued manual updates that only offered to mechanics to date).

    Tesla is neither saint nor devil, and their cars are just cars. Stop treating every glitch in the patch notes like it was a four alarm fire just because every other shill in the media has decided to dog pile on one company. Or at least be even handed about it, and dish it out on the competition just as hard.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      *their

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      Save the hysterics for when the brakes stop working again

      This assumes the brakes are even fitted.

      https://www.thedrive.com/news/43876/tesla-model-3-owner-discovers-car-was-delivered-missing-a-brake-pad

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

        Well that's the new tech economy for you, isn't it? "Move Fast And (don't) Brake Things"

    3. David Nash

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      Agreed, and while there are some Tesla evangelists who worship Musk, there are almost certainly far more Tesla owners who bought it because it's a nice car that does what they want, and who don't particularly care one way or the other about Musk. So no need for the headlines and snarky comments implying that every Tesla driver is part of the cult.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      I believe Mazda owners are currently experiencing bricked radios because of a bug involving un-suffixed Album Art media files broadcast OTA by some radio stations.

      Add to this the Bad Clock bug affecting Honda and Acura and we are starting to get a nice little catalogue of examples.

    5. elaar

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      "and their cars are just cars"

      Are you sure all Tesla owners are aware of this?

    6. rcxb1

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      > trying to spin them into the same level as an exploding Ford Pinto

      If you don't know that a "recall" is any issue requiring a manufacturer to offer a free repair, then the "spin" is in your own head. There have been recalls for things like indicator lights and floor mats...

    7. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

      Their cars are overhyped hot garbage, and they're ugly as sin. The Polestar is a much nicer looking marque

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

        I like both the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Iconic 5 as well, although I think the fun looks of the Iconic may age quickly.

        I just wonder how I'd get a 800V speed charger installed in our office garage without the light dimming for 18 minutes at a time :)

      2. runt row raggy

        Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

        Polestars are generally way better looking than your average woman and you're way less likely to introduce them to your friends.

        1. very angry man

          Re: The press has really gone all in on these headlines

          I had to web search it, just another euro trash design, you have been blinded by mundane!

  5. spireite Silver badge
    Trollface

    Could be good uses for this.....

    Have it recognise a good looking person.... play "Get outta my dreams, get into my car"

    Pull up at a crossing for a pedestrian/behind another vehicle... "Get outta my way you dirty mofo"

    or my favourite, play the Imperial March or Tie-fighter on approaching a pedestrian crossing!

    So much fun, nipped in the bud......

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Could be good uses for this.....

      Shame, I was hoping someone would hack it and set it permanently to the Magic roundabout theme.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cUwVLx8K9s

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Could be good uses for this.....

      Stuck in traffic? Play Ludacris "Move Bitch".

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Could be good uses for this.....

      Clearly Clarkson screaming "get out of my way".

    4. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Could be good uses for this.....

      No, no, no.... No, no, no!*

      *This isn't the clip half of you are thinking it is!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Could be good uses for this.....

        Oh, well played :-)

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Could be good uses for this.....

          It even sounds like a car horn in there doesn't it?

          :)

    5. Montreal Sean

      Re: Could be good uses for this.....

      "Ballroom Blitz" could be good when you pull up at the dance hall.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Could be good uses for this.....

        Many of the other suggestions would be cool, but yours would be sweet.

        1. Scott 26

          Re: Could be good uses for this.....

          > Many of the other suggestions would be cool, but yours would be sweet.

          Clever!

    6. CtrlAltDel

      Re: Could be good uses for this.....

      How about Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law” as you approach a traffic camera?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Could be good uses for this.....

        Big Six by Judge Dread.

        Little Boy Blue come blow up you horn Ay Ay Ay!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    not really a recall?

    Have seen reports of multiple "recalls" for Teslas recently, they all seem to say software updates are the cause. But to me a recall means you take the car to the dealer, or maybe in Telsa's case the dealer comes to you. But in any case I'm sure I've read Telsa sends software updates to the cars over the internet I guess? No need to be near a dealer. Are there software updates that Telsa has that can only be installed by their own staff? Maybe there is I don't know.

    Last time my car needed a software update(not a Tesla) it had to go to the dealer, something to do with the exhaust system or emissions or something like that, dealer applied the update and were honest about it saying it was a very fickle process taking up to an hour assuming it went smoothly, hooked the car to some equipment then downloaded the update from the internet (why they didn't or couldn't store the update on their local systems confused me since they said if their internet connection went out they couldn't do the update). Ended up taking about 35mins I think.

    1. David Nash
      Facepalm

      Re: not really a recall?

      I was going to say the same. Not a recall at all, more akin to a Windows Update or my phone updating while I sleep.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: not really a recall?

        We wish windows updates involved a recall.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: not really a recall?

          Recall?

          1. very angry man

            total recall

            with Arnie and a big gun!

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: not really a recall?

      I was thinking the same, but then again, the reason my car needs to go to the dealer for a software update is because they cannot change functionality over the air - Which is a Good Thing™

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: not really a recall?

        And neither can anyone else which is even better.

    3. nobody who matters

      Re: not really a recall?

      Any alteration or modification to a vehicle which is required on safety grounds counts as a recall.

      Just because it is an over the air software modification doesn't change that. If they were not able to do the modification remotely, it would require a visit to a dealer/authorised service centre.

      1. David Nash
        Joke

        Re: not really a recall?

        Calling it "recall" when the car is not being [re-]called back to anywhere is nearly as bad as using "full autopilot" when it doesn't drive fully automatically

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      "Recall" is NTHSA terminology

      They don't have an official way of saying "require an OTA update".

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: "Recall" is NTHSA terminology

        Of course.

        Because the vast majority of vehicles cannot do an OTA update. Which to be honest, is a good thing.

        I rather prefer to be able to choose when my car gets a firmware update. Not just in case it goes wrong and leaves me stuck far from home, but also in case it decides to do it an an inopportune moment, like when there's five minutes left on the parking meter.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "Recall" is NTHSA terminology

          Would it be beyond the wit of the devs/designers to put a message up on the screen informing the driver a mandatory up must be performed but it can only happen if the driver responds to the message at a convenient time for the update to happen and the system identifies that the car is parked up? With the self driving/SatNam "awareness", they should even be able to tell if you are home on the driveway.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: "Recall" is NTHSA terminology

            Come on, Windows 10 has shown that simply ignoring the luser and rebooting his kit at random is totally okay...

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: "Recall" is NTHSA terminology

              Wait...what? Win10 is running my life support mach...BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

        2. arthoss

          Re: "Recall" is NTHSA terminology

          you can (on Tesla)! /mumbles: future is now old man

    5. veti Silver badge

      Re: not really a recall?

      Presumably the software is different not only for every model and year, but also for every possible combination of build options, as well as any later customisation. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that no two cars in any given city had exactly the same software.

      So not much point trying to store the update locally, and most of the time to make the update is spent on diagnostics to determine which of the 14,223 images your particular car needs.

  8. JDPower666 Bronze badge

    If the issue is with customers playing whatever they like, just remove that ability and only allow the built in presets. Not sure how disabling a safety feature completely improves pedestrian safety.

    1. keith_w

      I read the article as indicating that the operators of the vehicle would no longer be able to select the sounds that came out of the Pedestrian Warning System (the Boombox feature). The PWS would be playing the default sounds, what ever they may be.

      1. JDPower666 Bronze badge

        Ah, fair enough.

  9. msobkow Silver badge

    Poor Musk. Those darned safety regulators just don't let a guy make a fun toy and risk people's lives with it for laughs.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Devil

      Instead of the Boombox he should have mounted his Not A Flamethrower on the front.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The company disbanded its media relations unit in 2020"

    So now the company relies on court cases and government directives for its communication ?

    Is Tesla that shitty ?

    1. nobody who matters

      Re: "The company disbanded its media relations unit in 2020"

      I take it that is a rhetorical question?

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: "The company disbanded its media relations unit in 2020"

      *nods enthusiastically*

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uh

    The issue is that you can be playing a sound effect that drowns out the sound the car makes to warn people it's nearby and that's... dangerous...? Am I missing something here?

    Also 'recall' is a very overblown term to mean 'patched OTA before this article even goes live'

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Uh

      Bureaucrats and that is it.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Uh

      Yes, it is dangerous.

      People are used to vehicles making a certain range of "moving vehicle" sounds.

      If it's singing "I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts" at top volume instead, they may initially think it's a preschooler and not realise it's a moving car until it's too late.

      Not everyone is fully sighted, and even those that are don't always see what's directly behind them in places like car parks, for example.

      1. KSM-AZ
        Trollface

        Re: Uh

        Richard12:

        Yes, it is dangerous.

        People are used to vehicles making a certain range of "moving vehicle" sounds.

        ----

        I call BS. And the regulators are getting way out of hand. Why does my 2020+ Niro EV need a police siren loud beep when backing up? Because before I unplugged that bitch, if I backed out of my driveway at 4AM, every neighbor within a 1/4 mile knew I was moving. But yet that new RAV-4 and Jeep next door don't make a peep. Exactly what "moving vehicle" sounds does a modern car make? Unless you are driving a Corvette with the "Deep Sound exhaust BS" turned on, I'd bet the DB level of an EV backing up is not appreciably different than a new SUV.

        Modern ICE vehicles are QUIET. I would also note, that just like smells . . . We tune out familar noises whatever they may be. If you can stand here and tell me that you are over 30 and have not walked thru a parking lot and been 'surprised' by a car backing out, then you are either lying or lucky. Further if you tell me you HEARD IT BACKING UP, unless it was a Diesel truck or beater with a bad muffler, I ain't drinkin' the kool-aid.

        Watch where you are going. ASSUME the car has broken backup lights and is headed your way.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Uh

          But it can easily make people misjudge the speed of a vehicle, even if they see it. The rate of doppler shift (ie how quickly a sound is getting higher pitched) gives you a clue as to the speed. Even tyre noise is subject to it (which as you point out seems to be the dominant noise for most new cars)

          If someone happened to be playing some music that was pitching down and getting quieter while they were approaching you, that could sound like they're stationary.

          But probably more importantly: if someone is playing some rap music, then the world will know that a complete twat owns a tesla and that would put off the rich people from buying them (the rich are the ones who go for the expensive extras).

          1. KSM-AZ
            Boffin

            I call BS again

            Doppler shift. Really? So somehow because my car (or golf cart or ...) is electric itceases to make *ANY* noise? Sorry, but electric motors make noise, tires make noise when they roll, sometimes on crappy roads or gravel an order of magnitude more dB than a any car noise. I have several deaf friends, no blind ones, but I used chat not infrequently with a guy who rode on my city bus to work with a seeing eye dog. He actually mentioned one time he was annoyed by some of the over-loud backup beeps on trucks because he couldn't always tell where they were. I'm not blind, so I can't speak past that.

            So you put forth a premise that 'doppler shift' in sound of a modern ICE vehicle helps blind people identify moving vehicles and keeps them from getting run over vs an electric car. Do you have a reference or study materials on this? It's a lot like 'Masks Prevent Covid', because your spit doesn't travel as far. 'Well it has to do some good', except in the real world, you just can't actually connect the dots. Lot's of opinions, lots of seeming valid premises (Gee that sounds right) but the pudding ain't got no proof.

            The other part is ear 'training'. Since most vehicles have been rather noisy on the outside what you have is a recognized sound. Electric cars also make plenty of sounds without the stupid ESS boxes, but they are simply not as familiar / recognized.

        2. dl1jph

          Re: Uh

          Watch where you're going is IMPOSSIBLE for some people (no functioning eyesight)! And that's precisely the point. Those people can do just fine by listening instead, as long as nobody messes with that for whatever reason. If you object to that, you're basically asking for a significant minority of people to be imprisoned for your pleasure. And yes, you can absolutely hear an ICE running. Usually, I can roughly tell the direction and speed it's going and get an estimate of the vehicle size - all without ever seeing the vehicle. And I'm not even blind, just paying attention... Blind people usually do this WAY better than me.

    3. Francis Boyle

      Re: Uh

      The human brain is very good at filtering out extraneous information which means safety signals need to look/sound like safety signals. It's why you don't see many traffic signs using Comic Sans.

      1. runt row raggy

        Re: Uh

        why assume that safety signals are being looked for, and not filtered out as extraneous?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Uh

          Because people's brains have a vested interest in telling its user HEY THAT THING CAN KILL ME PAY ATTENTION maybe?

  12. elaar

    Look at their website, the new Model S claims 0-60s in 1.99s (sure?) and has a picture of the driver LCD showing "the witcher" with a steering wheel shape last seen in star trek. Could it be any more inappropriate for actual driving? Our fleet department bought 8 of them for us to test a while back, and the "estimated" mileage of 336miles for my model turned out to be 240miles in December, making the electricity more expensive than diesel, and that's without the massive increases due in April!

    I'm all for electric cars, but Tesla's don't have a good image these days, get rid of the creepy looking nut job in charge and their marketing department might do a bit better.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      They do go like s**t off a shovel.

      The styling isn't to everyone's taste, and of course if you do floor it a lot (because it's fun) then you will rather reduce the range.

      Once the initial fun wears off then you'll most likely stop trying to find out just how close you dare get to said 1.99s all the time, and the range will increase to something a lot closer to the "optimal driving conditions" figure.

      My next car will be full electric. Probably not a Tesla though.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        "The styling isn't to everyone's taste"

        That is the understatement of the year. The front looks kinda okay, but from the B pillar back, their styling dept must have been on holiday

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I've seen Teslas on the motorway, me passing them while I'm doing 70mph. On the other hand, I've seen Teslas passing me on the motorway while I'm doing 70mph and seem to be standing still by comparison. I guess they are the ones where the "fun" hasn't worn off yet :-)

        Actually, I saw one today while on my way home along the M62. I was doing 70mph. He was stopped on the hard shoulder. There was another car parked just behind him. That one had pretty blue flashing lights :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I've now seen a few now on a range extender*. Not sure why, didn't seem anything wrong with them. Maybe they ran out of extension lead?

          * AKA typically diesel powered towing truck :)

      3. Ken Shabby
        Holmes

        Snot off a stick... now that's quick. What is the El Reg unit of acceleration?

      4. KSM-AZ
        Thumb Up

        EV energy cost vs ICE/Hybrid

        I've got a Niro EV, a Kona EV and a Sonata PHEV, (and an RX-8, but I digress). I don't care for the Tesla myself, but I think the Model 3 is the most sold EV around, it passed the Leaf in 2020ish. Tesla's mileage estimates are aggressive. OTOH the Niro is very conservative. Rated at 249, I've driven around 260 on a charge with the GOM showing another 50 or so miles of range. Some guys in the UK (U-tube) grabbed an LR model3 a Niro, a BMW? VW, something else... And drove them literally to dead. 70MPH on the freeway climate on, blah, blah. Model three went the farthest but only like 280/290. Niro came in 2nd ~270+ . Pretty interesting.

        So I don't know what you pay for leccy, but I calc'd my break-even with 3.00/gal gas to be around US$0.28/kwh (vs the Sonata when running pure hybrid, at around 40MPG). 64KW bat pak, means around 64KWH for a "full tank" which assumes you were not "dry". There is overhead in charging. ~10% actually a little less, so 64kwh gets you ~ 58+kwh of usable power. I pay 0.07 off-peak so $4.50 for 225 miles (conservatively). $0.28 brings a 'tank of fuel' to $18/225 miles. roughly the same as 6 gal of gas (240mi).

        Just some 'rule of thumbs' to keep it honest. The biggest difference is an EVs efficiency can vary wildly based on driving conditions. Keep it under 50-60mph (my commute) and stay out of temps below freezing and you can really push your mi/kwh up. I average well over 4.0 in both EV's. So unless you were paying Blink/EVGO/EA prices for your leccy, (.30-.50/kwh) AND you got your gas for 3 bucks or less (Not in California) not sure where the math was coming from.

        Assuming your leccy is 0.28 or less, ie you are charging at your home or office, you'd be hard pressed to match energy costs with a hybrid. Not ever gonna happen with a pure ICE vehicle.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: EV energy cost vs ICE/Hybrid

          In the UK, the current fuel price is about £1.50/litre, which works out at £5.68/US-gallon (£6.82/proper gallon, but I'll stick with your US metrics) so US$7.67/gallon.

          Domestic electricity is around 21p/kWh (US$0.28)

          When I did the calculations (~2 years ago), driving a tesla on their supercharger network would cost more per mile than my 10 year old diesel. Domestic electricity would've been cheaper, but not practical for long journeys. Since then electricity prices have gone up a lot quicker than diesel prices.

          1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

            Re: EV energy cost vs ICE/Hybrid

            I've found it depends on what type of journey we're doing whether it's better to use a EV/hybrid or ICE vehicle.

            We've a BMW 330e Hybrid which can manage, on a good day, 20ish miles on battery at a cost of roughly £1.50 - so if I was allowed to use it for running the kids to school and back for a week, it would use 0 gallons of fuel and a single charge, so less than £2. Using our diesel C4 Grand Picasso, it does ~45MPG on short runs, and ends up costing around £10 a week in diesel.

            However, because my wife refuses to use the Citroen on the longer journey (where it's quite easily capable of 60MPG plus) and uses the hybrid, it's run out of battery before she's got to where she's going, can't be charged while it's there (no public chargers near the university where she can leave it) and runs 2/3 of the day on petrol, averaging around 40MPG, then complains about 1) how much fuel costs and 2)why she's using too much fuel

            (WRT to charging costs, our domestic electricity cost is quite a lot less than 21p/kWh, EDF did a very silly deal guaranteed for three years!)

      5. David Pearce

        Over powerful motors and the matching power and cooling system will have a serious weight penalty, affecting range badly in normal driving

  13. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    Holmes

    S 3 X Y models

    Hey, I see what you did there. How wude.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What were they thinking?

    FFS, who thought this feature was a good idea in the first place?

    I'm guessing Tesla engineers and marketeers are the kind of people who drive around with their windows down so that everybody else can "enjoy" their choice of music.

  15. PhilipN

    So what else is new?

    Mate's shiny new LR Defender would not start. The dealer retrieved it to reinstall the system. He was told if that did not work the vehicle would have to go back to the factory.

    Side issue : the factory where? The Defender was built with parts from all over the Continent. Final assembly was Slovakia - yup, good old Land Rover ..... Slovakia....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cult of Musk

    Software has been updated to say “praise be our supreme leader, may his ideas eventually come to fruition” over and over…

  17. Steve K Silver badge

    Greensleeves

    In the UK at least, they should play “Greensleeves” (on a Glockenspiel) from the speakers as the safest tune.

    People will (in the warmer seasons) either look round as they fancy an ice-cream, or in the colder seasons look round and wonder who is trying to sell ice-cream in the cold.

    If they are going fast enough, people will still hear but can always quote Eric Morecambe and say “he’ll never sell any going at that speed!”

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Greensleeves

      Nice idea!

      The alternative is that SpaceX should be forced to have a "bird warning system" so their rockets sound like an electric car. And Tesla can have their cars sound like a Falcon Heavy on launch. Everyone should be happy with that...

  18. DeathSquid

    OTA software update, not a recall. Is it me, or are the TSLA short sellers getting a little shrill and desperate?

  19. Aseries

    Tesla may eventually become a useful transportation device.

    Tesla may be forced to engineer their vehicles into something more than a large expensive toy.

    A very popular aftermaket option for Teslas is a kit bolted under the rear bumper that simulates conventional ICE dual exhaust. It is actually a set of loudspeakers. Another add-on is a set of simulated analog dash instruments, MPH, TACH, etc.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does a remote software update…

    …qualify as a recall?

    I thought a recall was when the thing needs to go back to the shop?

    Edit: never mind, it's answered elsewhere in the thread, didn't see it the first time.

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