Tesla Under Fire For Autopilot Chip Downgrade on Made-In-China Model 3

Tesla received widespread criticism over hardware downgrade. Recently, an owner of Tesla’s upgraded Model 3 reported on Weibo that the hardware code of their car controller was inconsistent with the number on the documents of the vehicle. While the vehicle controller was clearly labeled “1462554 accessories” (HW 3.0), the actual installed accessories were “11483112-02-E” (the earlier version HW 2.5).

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Following this, more Model 3 owners also reported that they found the same downgrade in hardware and raised doubts on the quality of domestic made Model 3s. Some car owners even said they had reported Tesla for consumer fraud to “12315”, the Chinese national hotline for consumer rights.

Tesla’s Autopilot suite has been marketed as one of the brand’s key premiums. Back in 2019, Elon Musk unveiled the Autopilot HW 3.0 hardware upgrade powered by Tesla’s self-developed FSD chip. The previous version HW2.5 uses Nvidia’s Drive PX2 chip. In terms of computing power, the new chip can process about 21 times more images per second than the old one, at 2,300 frames per second. Musk has previously said that the new HW3.0 will be available for all Model 3s produced after April 2019. HW3.0 is also key to the FSD (Full Self Driving service) that consumers can opt to purchase additionally.

Tesla released a statement in response, claiming that the downgrade in hardware was due to “problems in supply chain”. “HW2.5 and HW3.0 are virtually the same for owners who did not purchase additional FSD service”, Tesla claimed.“We have installed the latest HW3.0 for all users that have purchased FSD”. Tesla also promises to provide free retrofit service for all Made-In-China Upgraded Model 3 owners to upgrade their HW2.5 chip to HW3.0 “as production capacity and supply chains recover”.