The MCUv1 soap opera has apparently come to a conclusion. After NHTSA asked Tesla to replace all these multimedia computers with one that would not present the eMMC car failures that made many of them cease to work, Tesla started sending emails to customers affected by the issue, which are more than 159,000 worldwide. In the US alone, they are about 158,000.

Curiously, the company did not update its recall page nor gave any signs it would comply with NHTSA’s request. It was a Reddit discussion started at 2:27 PM ET on February 1, 2021, that brought the subject up.

NHTSA Requests Tesla To Recall All 159,000 Model S, X Units With MCUv1

Electrek managed to obtain a copy of one of these email messages, and it does not clarify much about how the repair will be made. Our best guess was that the company would replace all MCUv1 units with its 8 Gb eMMC card for the MCUv2, which presents an eMMC card with more capacity: 32 Gb.

If you are not aware of what causes the defect, it is related precisely to this component. When the Model S and the MCUv1 were presented back in 2012, the 8 Gb eMMC card was enough for the car’s software demands.

With more over-the-air upgrades and unnecessary logging, according to Jason Hughes and Robert Cotran, the eMMC card had way more writing cycles than it was designed to stand, which led them to fail in about four years.

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Confronted with the issue, Tesla did not replace solely the eMMC card on the MCUv1: it replaced the entire unit and ofter threw it in common garbage bins, which led some of these units to end up on eBay with their owner’s data in it. Changing only the chip was apparently not economically feasible.

The email messages apparently say that “Tesla will upgrade, free of charge, the eMMC on your vehicle with an enhanced 64 Gb eMMC.” We are still trying to obtain one of such messages to confirm that this is the case. If it is, the solution will probably be different from simply replacing the MCUv1 for the MCUv2 in all 159,000 vehicles worldwide.

Unless Tesla has upgraded the MCUv2 with a larger eMMC card – with double its original capacity – the recall will involve a new computer. Not the ICE that it adopted on the refreshed Model S and X, but something on the MCU architecture. It is yet to determine if it will be the old MCUv1 with a larger flash memory card or an improved MCUv2 unit.

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The Reddit thread says, “it may be several weeks or months for the parts to become available and start scheduling for replacement,” something the email messages seem to confirm. In the meantime, owners with defective MCUv1 units that have appointments with Tesla have no idea how to proceed, as the Reddit discussion makes clear.

For the ones replacing the multimedia computer under warranty, the costs are on Tesla’s shoulders. However, they will still be without their cars at least twice: to get the refurbished or new MCUv1 in place and to later have the recall when the computers for it are available. Loaner cars are not often available as they used to be.

The ones that have to pay for the repair should first clarify how Tesla will deal with that. All the people that had to pay for an MCUv1 in the past should get a refund. The ones that had the MCUv2 upgrade because of concerns that the MCUv1 would eventually fail also deserve to get their money back. 

Luckily, Tesla is now a profitable company and will have the necessary funds to do the right thing. Yet, all people involved should make sure this is what is going to happen. The company would better be more transparent about what it intends to do as soon as possible. That may avoid lawsuits related to the issue, such as the class-action Entewan Faragalla brought against Tesla in March 2020. Email messages to the affected customers are not enough.

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