Elon Musk Claims the ‘Fun Police’ Forced Tesla to Restrict its Boombox Feature, Leading to Recall

Election Campaign CDU - Laschet and Musk visit Tesla Factory, Grünheide, Brandenburg, Germany - 13 Aug 2021
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is once again unhappy with government regulators, and the famously controversial businessman is letting Twitter know.

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The company is recalling 578,607 electric vehicles due to the car’s Boombox feature, following the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) alerts that the sound emitted using Boombox could be “construed to obscure or prevent the PWS [pedestrian warning system] from complying with FMVSS 141,” — in other words, creating non-compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards — according to the recall report.

Asked by a Twitter user “What was the rationale behind the BoomBox recall?” Musk replied on Feb. 12, “The fun police made us do it (sigh).”

The Boombox feature was part of the 2020 Holiday update and enables drivers to change their standard horn sound to sounds such as a goat’s bleat, holiday jingles, or passing gas outside the vehicle, according to a Musk tweet at the time. 

Tesla explains on its website that: “Boombox, an app in Toybox, uses the Pedestrian Warning System (PWS) speaker (if equipped) to play media externally when Model X is parked, when you press the horn, when you drive the car, or when you use Summon to move Model X. When Boombox is enabled, you can control external volume only when playing current media. You can customize sounds by plugging in a specifically-formatted USB drive.”

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On Feb. 4, Tesla said it will “deploy an OTA firmware release to affected vehicles that will disable the Boombox functionality when the vehicle is in Drive, Neutral and Reverse modes,” according to the recall report.

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This is Tesla’s fourth recall in two weeks, CNN reported, adding that earlier this month, Tesla recalled 817,143 vehicles due to a chime that would not always sound if a driver’s seat belt was unbuckled. Just prior to that, the company recalled its “full self-driving” software, which had been programmed to roll through stop signs in certain circumstances, CNN added. Tesla’s driver assist system, Autopilot, and its in-vehicle video game feature have also been under NHTSA scrutiny, according to CNN.

In August 2021, the NHTSA made its investigation into Tesla’s autopilot crashes public, as GOBankingRates previously reported. Since January 2018, the Office of Defects Investigation has identified numerous crashes in which Tesla models of various configurations have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes, the agency said in its probe.

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According to the agency’s investigation, the incidents include 11 crashes and fires, 17 injuries and one fatality. The agency said it would investigate 765,000 Tesla vehicles spanning several models, including the Model Y, Model X, Model S and Model 3.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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