Tesla has recently announced a suspension of the delivery of its updated Model 3, dubbed 'Highland', in Australia. This halt, effective from the end of business on 17 January 2024, is due to a compliance issue related to the vehicle's rear centre top-tether point, a crucial element for child seat anchorage. This feature is covered in the newly delivered Model 3s, which contradicts the Australian Design Rules (ADRs).
Reports suggest the updated Model 3 Highland does have a centre top-tether point, but it is covered and inaccessible without significant modification. The previous Model 3 had the centre mounting point easily accessible.
The missing top-tether point has prompted a close collaboration between Tesla and Australian authorities to rectify the issue. Tesla has communicated to its customers their commitment to resolving this problem swiftly and anticipates resuming deliveries in the upcoming weeks. The impact of this compliance breach on the vehicles already in the hands of customers remains uncertain, including the potential need for a recall.
The Australian Government, prioritizing road safety, has strict vehicle standards in place, one of which is the mandatory inclusion of top-tether points in all rear seats with seatbelts. The updated Model 3 is approved as a five-seater, but its design deviates from ADR 34, which mandates easy accessibility to these anchorage points without tools. The previous Model 3 models featured a top-tether anchor accessible through a flap on the parcel shelf, a design missing in the latest update.
Tesla's situation is not unique in the Australian market. Previously, BYD Atto 3 faced a similar technical compliance issue, leading to a pause in deliveries and a recall of the delivered vehicles.
Tesla might consider reclassifying the updated Model 3 as a four-seater by removing the rear middle seat belt, a strategy previously adopted by Honda for its HR-V in Australia.
Adding to the complexity, the updated Model 3's ANCAP safety rating is currently unassigned, following its omission from the pre-update model's five-star rating. This development has raised concerns and calls for a swift resolution to ensure compliance and safety standards are met.
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