The automaker is trying to blame the 5-year-old Ukrainian girl that broke her finger in it.
Anyone with small kids knows how hard it is to make them protect themselves properly. "Don’t throw that rock up; it may fall on your head! Don’t stick your finger there; it will hurt you!"
Good luck trying. They do as they please. And eventually get hurt, such as Milana Izzetov, a 5-year-old Ukranian girl. She made her parents discover what the Tesla Model X Ice Breaker feature is in an awful way: sticking her right middle finger into one. Her parents think that it is no excuse for a car to present what they consider as a dangerous feature. With that in mind, they are suing Tesla in the US for the company to make this solution safer.
Gallery: Have You Ever Heard Of Tesla's Ice Breaker? It Also Breaks Fingers
Have you ever heard of the Ice Breaker? We confess we never did. It is a black plastic cube that pops out of the automatic front doors of the Model X. It is on the inner side, a little above the door latches.
Its primary purpose is to force the door open when its automatic mechanism finds it harder to do so than it usually is. A nice feature for when snow or ice is blocking the doors, the problem is that Ice Breakers are hollow. Big enough for a human finger to fit inside them.
According to ABC7’s video, there is no information on the owner’s manual about the Ice Breaker. If there was, the rescue team could have spent just a few seconds to take Milana’s finger out of the Ice Breaker instead of two hours. The door would also escape without an ugly cut.
Tesla now informs you can open it with a second pull on the handle, but why isn’t that in the manual? Perhaps this is something the company could include in its next manual update.
More than instructions to avoid the sort of problem Milana had, the Ice Breaker could have an effort sensor to prevent it from closing if anything was in the way. That is how mainstream manufacturers prevented children from accidentally killing themselves while playing with power windows.
Sadly, these sensors are still not offered in many countries because cars are cheaper to build without them.
That is probably what Milana’s parents want to make sure that happens with the lawsuit they have filed in the US. They have hired Dan Tan as their attorney for that. According to ABC7, Tesla's Managing Counsel, Ryan McArthy, sent an email message to Tan. He said the following there to the attorney:
“That your client stuck her finger in the latch mechanism doesn't reveal a defect in the latch but rather an unfortunate and regrettable decision on her part and/or failure of oversight on the part of the adults in the area."
Volkswagen had a similar problem in Brazil with the Fox. Not the sedan sold in the US in the 1980s, but rather a subcompact hatchback also exported to Europe. Its rear seats could be folded by pulling a loop attached to the seat frame.
The problem with it is that this loop often got stuck under the seat. To fold it, many users stuck their fingers in the frame. When the seat got back in place, it would cut parts of people’s fingers off. This video in Portuguese shows that. If you do not understand the language, stick with the images. They are self-explanatory.
It is interesting to see the "VW do Brasil" CEO claiming the Fox did not pose any threats to consumers. At the time, he was Thomas Schmall. Currently, he is a Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components and was involved with the eKäfer project.
The Brazilian Justice begged to differ and obliged VW to perform a recall for almost 800,000 units of the vehicle. It also had to pay a fine that is incredibly low for US standards. The units sold in Europe did not need the recall. Their mechanism for folding the rear seat was actually safe.
This case shows that what most people find harmless may cause a lot of pain for others. Milana broke and cut her finger but apparently has no other consequences.
Her father, Marlen Izzetov, was going to get a new Model X for his wife. Not in Ukraine, where Tesla does not sell its cars, but in Germany. His current Model X was also bought abroad, in the Czech Republic.
Being a fan of the brand did not prevent Izzetov from taking legal measures. "Tesla should inform other people about this situation, about this threat, put some warning signs on it or improve the mechanism, to make it safer," he told ABC7.
Curiously, this is not the first case of an electric car in Ukraine with problems. Last September 20, a Chevy Bolt caught fire in Kyiv. Both the GM and the Model X were independently imported.
Besides seemingly blaming the girl, Tesla already used that fact to claim no responsibility for what happened with Milana. It says that, as Izzetov did not have “any direct contractual relationship or event with Tesla at any time," the lawsuit should be dismissed. Regardless, a Tesla Ice Breaker broke her finger.
Is the company correct? Will NHTSA investigate the Ice Breaker? Have you ever heard of any issues with these gadgets? In case you did, drop us a comment about what happened. There may be more cases that we are not aware about. Just like you probably did not know about the finger-cutting seats on the Brazilian Volkswagen.