First in the USA and on Friday morning also in Germany, Tesla significantly lowered the price for retrofitting older electric cars to the new version of its media computer MCU (for Media Control Unit). Instead of 2500 euros, the change from MCU1 to MCU2 now only costs 1500 euros, i.e. 40 percent less. However, the background to this campaign could be as gratifying as it is unpleasant: On the one hand, Tesla is threatened with a recall in the USA for around 158,000 Model S and Model X with the old computer – on the other hand, the price reduction is possibly a kind of sales, because the two premium Teslas get an interior modernization.
Recall for 158,000 Model S & X threatens
The new price, which was reported on Friday night from the USA, was initially not implemented in Germany on Friday morning, but in the morning it also changed in this country. In Model S and Model X, the media computer is used to display navigation data and to control other infotainment functions, according to its name, but it is also used for turn signal noises, ventilation settings and the reversing camera.
The old version was installed until 2018 and contained a relatively small memory chip, which was initially often written to with log files. As a result, depending on the intensity of use, the MCU1 first slowed down after a while and then failed completely – even after corrections using software updates. From March 2020, Tesla offered the upgrade to MCU2 for 2500 dollars, initially in the US and later for 2500 euros in Europe. Nevertheless, the US agency NHTSA started an investigation in June after many complaints.
While this was still running, Tesla extended the MCU guarantee in November 2020 and offered to cover the costs for units that had already been replaced. The problem could not be solved with that either: Last week the NHTSA asked Tesla to call back all Model S and Model with MCU1. In most cases, companies won’t let it get that far, but Tesla now has to either follow up on the call by the end of January or explain fully why a recall is unnecessary.
MCU sell-out before Tesla facelift?
With the current price reduction, Tesla could try to persuade as many owners of older Model S and Model X as possible to pay for a (lower) swap in order to be able to argue with the NHTSA, for example, with only low case numbers. But there is also a more positive interpretation: Recently, rumors have increased about a refresh for the two premium electric cars, which could also include a different interior design with a transverse screen. MCU2 and the current portrait-format touchscreen would then simply no longer be needed, so that Tesla might simply want to get rid of remaining stocks with the lower exchange price. And of course a mixture of both aspects is also possible.