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Porsche issues physical recall of Taycans over loss of power issue

Porsche today issued a physical recall of its Taycan fleet over the loss of power issue. The question is, why not do this kind of update over OTA?

The recall doesn’t seem terribly tedious, only involving a short visit to the dealership, something that most ICE Porsche owners do quite frequently. However it does call into question its OTA software capability that Porsche has touted and used in the past for things like enabling Plug and Charge functionality.

Porsche last called in its 2020 Taycan owners in April to receive some of the updates that its software included as part of the 2021 model year.

A Porsche spokesperson relayed the official news:

Our first priority is the safety of our customers. With this in mind, Porsche notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it will recall certain MY20 and MY21 Porsche Taycan vehicles to update the power electronics and engine control unit software.  After recent review, Porsche determined that a software issue can, in certain instances, incorrectly and sporadically detect a potentially faulty communication and trigger a possible loss of motive power. A software update will help prevent this issue from occurring.  The update is now available, it has been implemented in production, and a number of customer vehicles have already received the update.  Dealers will update the new vehicles in their inventory prior to delivery to customers.  Customers affected will be notified this month and their vehicles will be remedied via a brief dealer visit free of charge and at their earliest convenience.

The Porsche European news site notes:

Porsche is reviewing and updating the software for the power electronics and the engine control unit on approximately 43,000 units of Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo vehicles from the 2020 to 2021 model years, of which about 3,400 are in Germany.

In case of the affected vehicles, there is the possibility that in certain instances a shutdown of the power train, resulting in loss of motive power may be triggered incorrectly and sporadically. A software update will be installed in the workshop.

The issue was already remedied in the ongoing series. Owners of the affected vehicles can continue to use them and will be contacted directly by their responsible Porsche partner. A workshop appointment that will be free of charge should take place as soon as possible and the software update will take about an hour.

The bad news comes on the tail of Porsche announcing that the Taycan has surpassed the iconic 911 as its number-one selling sports car in the US. Back in April we noted that the Taycan surpassed the similar sized Panamera in sales and was heading toward the 911. Interestingly, it isn’t cannibalizing 911 sales at all, likely bringing in customers from Panamera and other automakers.

Porsche noted that the “Taycan’s popularity continued to accelerate, with deliveries in the first half already exceeding all of 2020, helped by new variants.” [Read: Cross Turismo]. So the Taycan is now Porsche’s biggest-selling car and with the new Macan EV looming, the iconic carmaker’s years with ICE motors are numbered.

Electrek‘s take:

Obviously Porsche’s Taycan is a relatively new technology platform, and there are bound to be issues.

That said, it would be a lot easier for everyone involved if Porsche could have pushed the update via OTA like Tesla often does. Speaking with a source with knowledge of the matter, it sounds like only about 1,000-3,000 of the global Taycans are directly affected by this issue. Notably, the issue can also be remedied by turning the car off and then on again like a home router. Obviously not the best remedy, especially if traveling through a tunnel or bridge. Note some of the potentially dangerous situations filed at the NHTSA site.

That source told us that Porsche could have sent the update out over OTA, but because this was an official NTHSA recall, Porsche wanted it to be documented in person. Asked whether an OTA would have made the cars safer quicker, the source noted that Porsche was evaluating that option going forward and squaring it with NHTSA’s guidelines.

Which is to say that Porsche doesn’t view this as a huge safety issue, so it is more important that it is done right, and it doesn’t seem like Porsche has all of its OTA software update ducks in a row. I think some of the drivers in the complains above would have taken the OTA in a heartbeat.

Porsche dealers will be reaching out to the limited minority of owners whose VINs put them as susceptible to the outage. The rest of the fleet can get the update as well, but obviously the ones with the issue will be prioritized. Porsche doesn’t want every Taycan owner filling up their garages while only a subset need to be remedied.

I hope Porsche and other carmakers, particularly ones like GM and Hyundai, which have had much more devastating problems with LG batteries, can figure out how to do software updates to their vehicles. Over the air. Until then, the much more technology-focused Tesla will have a decided advantage in the space.

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Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites. Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt owner…5 ebikes and counting