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Published on June 10th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley


Promising Compelling Electric Cars Is Easy, Building Them Is Hard — Audi e-tron & Jaguar I-PACE Recalls

June 10th, 2019 by  

Oh, that Tesla. It can’t build cars like the big boys and will be out of business soon as traditional car companies catch up and pass Tesla on the pathway to the EV revolution. That’s what you hear from the Tesla haters all the time.

Yes, it’s true, building cars is hard — far harder than Elon Musk thought possible when he started his campaign to convert the world to electric transportation. “Build competitive electric cars,” he urged the competition. “No problem,” they responded. “We can do that before lunch and then take the rest of the day off.” Hasn’t exactly turned out that way, though.

Jaguar I-PACE Recall

Jaguar I-PACE EV

Jaguar has recalled about 3,000 of its I-PACE* electric SUVs, according to Cars.com, due to a malfunction in the regenerative braking system. “If the regenerative brake system fails, there will be an increased delay between when the driver brakes and when the vehicle decelerates, increasing the risk of a crash,” according to the recall notice. (Editor’s note: do we really need all the capital letters? Yes, we apparently do.)

There are no reports about how the defect was discovered or whether any crashes occurred as a result. But any time the driver steps on the brake pedal and gets a response other than the one expected, things can go downhill in a hurry.

The fix? Bring your car into your local Jaguar dealer and the defect will be corrected for free! Well, that is comforting, isn’t it? According to the recall notice, “Jaguar will begin notifying owners July 1. Owners can call Jaguar at 800-637-6837, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or visit its website to check their vehicle identification number and learn more.”

What the notice doesn’t say is that if Jaguar had given the I-PACE over-the-air update capability the way Tesla did with the Model S in 2012, and has done with its vehicles ever since, this whole thing could have been taken care of, done and dusted, in a matter of hours, or days at most — with no need to bring the car into a dealer. So much for the legacy automakers showing Tesla how to build real cars in the real world!

Audi e-tron Fire Risk

Audi e-tron

Audi, which likes to think of itself as one of the oldest premium carmakers in the world, has found it may not be as clever as it thinks. Its brand new e-tron* electric SUV is barely out the door and already has a serious problem. It turns out water can seep into the car’s battery case, which increases the risk of fire. InsideEVs has the entire announcement from Audi:

Audi of America takes the safety of its customers and the quality of our vehicles very seriously. In order to ensure the highest levels of safety and quality for our customers, we have issued a voluntary recall affecting approximately 540 e-tron vehicles that have been delivered to customers and 1,644 in total. The recall is in response to a potentially faulty seal that may allow moisture to enter the battery compartment which could lead to a short circuit or in extreme cases to a thermal event. We are applying an abundance of caution as no such incidents have been reported globally. The recall repair is expected to become available in August 2019.

Customers are being contacted directly to inform them of the recall and our dealer network is fully engaged to deliver the best customer service possible. We regret any inconvenience caused to our customers and reservation holders as we work with all parties toward a positive outcome in the weeks ahead. Audi e-tron vehicles unaffected by the recall remain available for delivery and our reservation system remains open to receive customer reservations.

We are also offering customers a service loaner, $800 cash card, complimentary Audi Care (or reimbursement) and dedicated customer service contact.

On Twitter, Michael Fortson (@michaelf) adds, “It turns out that water can get into the high-voltage charging port of affected vehicles, making its way to the high voltage electronics and potentially leading to a battery fire. Yikes.” (Editor’s note: do we really need all lower-case letters? Yes, we apparently do.)

What’s The Point?

The point of the announcements from Jaguar and Audi is that building high-quality cars is really, really hard. Of Tesla, Audi, and Jaguar, one of the three will likely be out of business within 5 years. Despite all the press slamming Tesla lately, it is still far ahead of the pack when it comes to making compelling electric cars and is likely to stay there.

Every other car company is playing catchup but has enormous barriers to overcome in its quest to remain relevant in the future. There are no free passes to success no matter how long a company has been in business or how valuable its brand may be. Before the pundits belabor Tesla, they should pay attention to the struggles those other companies are having — many of which have almost a century of experience building cars.

Related: Tesla Outsold Porsche & Jaguar Globally In 1st Quarter 
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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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