The Tesla Cybertruck is full of uniqueness—after all, what other vehicle on the road today looks like a shiny trapezoid on wheels? One of the more... interesting design choices is its massive front wiper, which is said to help reduce drag. But as it turns out, putting a wiper that big in a road-going truck has led to some unique complexities—and ultimately a recall.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for all things EV and automotive tech. Today, we're chatting about the Cybertruck's windshield wiper recall, connected car data ownership concerns, and the dismal state of EV charger signage. Let's jump in.

30%: Tesla Recalls Nearly 12,000 Cybertrucks Over Faulty Gigawiper

The Tesla Cybertruck's Wiper and Sandy Munro
Munro & Associates Youtube Channel

The Tesla Cybertruck's Wiper and Sandy Munro

Widespread failures of the Tesla Cybertruck's massive "giga wiper" has prompted a recall of 11,688 pickups. We reported on this issue popping up on forums previously, noting at least 16 accounts of the wiper failing, many of which occurred at delivery or when the owner attempted to use the wiper for the first time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall notice says that "excessive electrical current can cause the front windshield wiper motor controller to fail."

It's not clear if this is due to the underlying 48-volt architecture now installed in the Cybertruck, or if the extraordinarily powerful wiper motor is drawing too much power. The massive RV-sized giga wiper is powered by a motor rated for 120 watts, according to Lars Moravy, Tesla's VP of engineering. For reference, that's more than double the average automobile's wiper motor, which rarely exceeds 50 watts.

The automaker halted deliveries over the wiper issue earlier this month.

Tesla is also addressing a second problem at the same time. A separate recall was also issued for 11,383 trucks due to the bed trim falling off while the vehicle is in motion. This is another issue that we reported Cybertruck owners had frequent problems with, likely due to the failure of the double-sided tape used to hold the sail applique trim to the bed.

"Tesla service will apply adhesion promoter and pressure sensitive tape or replace missing applique as necessary, free of charge," says Tesla in an NHTSA document.

Recall aside, the data provided by Tesla in this case gives us a good look into just how many trucks Tesla has produced between November 2023 and June 6th, 2024—around 11,688. As of April 4, Tesla had produced 3,878 trucks, meaning that Tesla built an additional 7,810 units in 63 days. That's around 124 per day. Tesla recently announced that it reached a milestone of 1,300 trucks per week during its annual investors' call.

60%: Americans Say They Want To Own Their Connected Vehicle Data

Chevy Bolt Data Sharing

Chevy Bolt Data Sharing

A new survey by insurance savings app Jerry shows that nearly all Americans want to own the data produced by their connected vehicles, according to a report from Automotive News.

Insurance company Jerry surveyed 1,300 drivers over vehicle data privacy and an astounding 96% of the individuals said that they believe the vehicle owner should own all data generated regarding the driver of the vehicle. The vast majority also expressed concerns over location history data being collected from their vehicle.

From the survey:

Nearly all of the drivers in a recent survey by Jerry—96% of them said they should own any data generated by their cars and expressed deep uneasiness at the prospect of automakers selling or sharing that data with third-party data brokers, insurance companies, and law enforcement agencies.

The issue has gained traction among the public, lawmakers, and regulators since a New York Times report in March described how one car owner faced an unexpected insurance rate hike after their driving data—metrics on braking, turning, acceleration, and cornering, for example—ended up in insurers’ hands via a third-party data broker. Faced with a public uproar, the automaker later stopped sharing customer data.

But it’s not just one automaker. No matter the brand, today’s cars are “a privacy nightmare,” according to the Mozilla Foundation, a global non-profit organization that researches digital privacy. All 25 automakers studied by Mozilla earned a privacy warning label, leading Mozilla to declare cars the worst product category for privacy they’d ever reviewed.

The surveyed drivers also dug into what was being done with the data collected. Eighty-one percent of drivers said that they are uncomfortable with location data being sold to third parties or shared with law enforcement without their knowledge. The same amount of respondees also noted that they would be wary of using their vehicle for sensitive or private trips if they knew that the location data would be shared.

82% of those surveyed indicated they were uncomfortable or extremely uncomfortable if the collected data was used to set their insurance rates. That exact scenario isn't just a pipe dream—it actually happened and drivers claimed to be opted-in to insurance sharing without their knowledge when buying their car. Ultimately, the blowback resulted in some automakers reshaping their data-sharing policies.

90%: EV Charging Signage Sucks And Needs An Overhaul

Electrify America Flagship Indoor Charging Station In San Francisco, California

Electrify America Flagship Indoor Charging Station In San Francisco, California

Have you ever realized just how prevalent signage is for gas stations? They're just about everywhere—signs before exits on the highway, on the exits, and large signs protruding into the sky from parking lots to just name a few places. And if you don't believe me, just think about that iconic photo from Lincoln Highway in Breezewood, PA.

Electrek makes a good point: signage for EV chargers simply sucks.

Believe it or not, PlugShare says there are actually 28 DC Fast Chargers in Breezewood, but you'd never know that from the street. If drivers were asked to find the Exxon station or Sheetz, they'd be able to do that with ease, but EV chargers don't get that same love. In fact, many people have to rely on third-party apps and in-car navigation to find chargers rather than use public signage to figure out where public chargers are installed.

Now, tech is changing. Perhaps it's easier to use an app or in-car navigation—but both of those promote distracted driving habits if there's not a passenger to search around for a charger mid-drive or if the car doesn't navigate to one automatically. With all of the government funding to push EV chargers on highway corridors, why aren't they better marked?

It's not just highway placement, either. The actual charger placement off of the highway can sometimes be difficult to locate in crowded shopping centers and parking garages.

Recently, I took a trip to the Poconos and while I could see the chargers from the street, it was surprisingly difficult to figure out how to navigate through the parking lot to actually find a route to them. Another commute to Washington D.C. resulted in a bit of back-and-forth to locate fast charges tucked away inside a parking garage.

Electrek points out that the new chargers at Chicago’s Wrigley Field suffer the same issue. A single sign pointing out the location of 10 EV chargers isn't enough to inform and direct drivers to the chargers. But other than eyesores of brightly lit signs looking to reach over one another, the problem isn't easy to solve. Perhaps it will get better as public charger density increases, or maybe legislation needs to mandate what signage is required.

100%: Should The Government Step In To Regulate Connected Car Data Collection?

Lucid Air DreamDrive sensors

Data is the world's most valuable commodity. There's a reason so much emphasis is put into collecting and storing it, and that's the almighty dollar. Data helps to drive decisions, whether that be financial or otherwise, so if automakers can capitalize on telematics data already being collected in their vehicles, why not do it?

That logic has blown up in recent months as automakers are being called out for selling consumer data to brokers, who then turn around and sell that same data to companies that use that information for setting insurance rates, marketing, and more.

With all of the new pressure on automakers regarding the data that is collected and sold, it seems that the public is calling on lawmakers to introduce consumer protection legislation that would safeguard their data and limit how it can be collected, stored, monetized, and disseminated.

So, here is where I ask you, dear reader, to weigh in. Would you rather see the government step in and control who owns your in-car data and how it is handled, or do you trust the market to self-regulate based on recent push-back? Let me know in the comments.

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