Investment firm Stifel Nicholaus is stringing some data together that, if Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk were to see, probably wouldn’t make him very happy considering the recent stand he took against the word “recall.”
Stifel has been keeping track of the number of recalls and recalled units put out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or, NHTSA), and has released an update that implies that year to date (in the last four weeks, essentially), Tesla has initiated more ‘recalls’ than Ford (NYSE:F) has. Of course, this depends on what one considers to be the true definition of recall.
Elon Musk famously tweeted that “the word ‘recall’ needs to be recalled” during an exchange between the NHTSA and Tesla over concerns regarding the company’s charging adapters. A garage fire in November sparked concerns that the adapter might have been responsible for drawing too much power and causing the blaze, though the final results were deemed inconclusive by the regional fire department.
Regardless, Tesla took a largely preventative approach and issued a software update to its vehicles, as well as made some improvements to the chargers to include a thermal fuse to lower or kill the current if the temperature exceeds a certain threshold.
The software update was done over the air, and the new chargers were being mailed directly to consumers at their homes, meaning no one or nothing had to be brought into Tesla’s service centers for repairs or changes. It was these actions that were slapped with the recall title and spurred the debate of what a recall is actually composed of.
According to Stifel’s data, Tesla Motors’ recall-that-wasn’t-a-recall was made up of 29,222 units, or 8.2 percent of the total recalled units going back to January 1. Ford at 28,233 units, or 7.9 percent of the total. General Motors made up the bulk of the chart, with 300,000 units, or 83.9 percent of the total due to its recall of the 2014 Silverado and Sierra pickups.
Stifel further pointed out that the “data is very early into the year and probably will be close to all the recalls that Tesla will put out,” it said in its note. “By comparison, Tesla has just 1,228 units on recall for all of 2013, while GM was at 958,904 units, and Ford hit 1,190,419 units.” The analyst added that, ”Given the small number of units in the recall. We assume it is an immaterial event for the company.”