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[YesAuto New Energy] In May 2019, I drove a newly purchased Model 3 and took it for a long-distance trip for the first time. During this trip of less than 300km, my car had three times when the car and the machine screen stopped—black screen—restarted. Since Model 3 only has the middle screen, when it goes black, all the information that reflects the state of the vehicle cannot be viewed, and I don't even know the speed of the vehicle at that time. Facing the doubts of my family in the car, I can only pretend to be calm and say: “It's okay, it will be fine in a while.” Because I have learned from car owners before that many people have this problem with Model 3…

In recent years, the problem of black screens of smart cars has appeared frequently

In 2018, Weilai exposed several cases of ES8 black screens during charging, the vehicle was powered off, and the charging gun could not be unplugged, which caused heated discussions on the Internet; in 2019, Model 3 began to be delivered in China, and car owners generally reported that there was feedback. The central control screen is black and the screen crashes during driving; In 2020, the zero running car was launched by the State Market Supervision and Administration Bureau due to the panoramic image stuck and the black screen of the instrument. The State Market Supervision Administration initiated a defect investigation, and finally decided to take recall measures; February 2021, Tesla The Model S/X (manufactured before 2018) recall plan was filed with the State Administration of Market Supervision and Administration. The reason was that the central control panel software malfunctioned……

It can be said that in the past few years, the problem of black screen death of smart cars has not been stopped. This has also aroused our attention to the incident. We hope that through investigation and reporting, the industry can pay attention to it and promote its resolution. As the beginning of a series of reports, let’s first focus on Tesla’s black screen issue today.

■ “My Tesla is driving with a black screen” -“Genuine”

When I first mentioned the car, the black screen became a topic of daily discussion among Model 3 owners at that time. At first, when someone suggested that they had a black screen, everyone thought it was just a case, and they all helped to find a way. Among them, the most recognized method was a “big panacea” method-forced restart.

Slowly, as more and more people reported the black screen, the replies of the group friends became numb from the original enthusiasm. Since there is really no good solution, some people simply replied to the car owner who asked the question: “Genuine “Not only ridiculed this phenomenon, but also regarded as a kind of comfort to these car owners.

■Not only one model has this problem

The black screen problem does not only appear on Model 3 models. Just a few days ago, a friend contacted me and said that his Model S had frequently black screens and crashes recently, so I asked if I had the same experience when driving Model 3. From his description, I learned that his car’s black screen lasted longer and the problem was more serious.

He also sent me a video recording the black screen process. It can be seen that the vehicle's instrument and central control screen do not display information at all, the turn signal does not work properly, the air conditioning control interface on the screen completely disappears, but the vehicle can still drive ( The accelerator pedal, brake pedal and steering wheel can work normally, which is a feature of all Tesla models when the screen is black). The following is the black screen video he sent, which was filmed halfway through the black screen problem (the long sigh is especially suitable).

■What caused the black screen?

I believe many people have heard that on January 13 this year, the U.S. government agency NHTSA (U.S. Highway Safety Administration), which is responsible for car safety, sent Tesla a letter suggesting a recall (this is NHTSA’s usual practice). Method, first send a letter suggesting you to recall, if you are interested, you can quickly recall, count your spontaneous) It is recommended that Tesla recall a large number of Model S and Model X previously produced, because these models use eMMC flash memory that has a short life and is not reliable enough element. When these components fail, it will cause the vehicle system to crash, increasing the risk of accidents.

NHTSA suggested that Tesla recall Model S/X not on a whim. It was decided on the head, but after receiving a large number of complaints from car owners, it conducted an in-depth investigation of the issue. During the period, it even got the vehicle from Tesla. The raw data generated when the black screen of death occurs.

These problems 8GB eMMC flash memory cell can only complete 3000 erasing and writing in its life cycle, and then it is almost unusable. According to the normal usage of Tesla owners, an average of 1.4 times a day is erased and written, so the old Model S/X is used for 5-6 years (5-6 years for a car, it is still far from the time it needs to be scrapped. The age of the car), the car-machine system will experience frequent crashes or even paralysis due to the end of the eMMC's life.

In fact, this situation is happening. According to the NHTSA survey, the MCU failure rate of the Model S produced in 2012-2015 in the U.S. market in 2020 is as high as 14.5-17.3%, while the failure rate of the Model S produced in 2016-2018 is between 1.9-4.1%. It can be seen that as the service life increases, the MCU failure rate of Tesla's old models will increase significantly.

It is not only Model S/X produced before 2018 that are affected

However, is the culprit that triggers the black screen of death only because the eMMC has a short lifespan and is prone to failure? The facts may not be so simple. Everyone should have noticed that the problematic models investigated by NHTSA are limited to the old Model S/X models before 2018. These models use the old MCU hardware, while the models after 2018 are equipped with a new generation of MCU hardware. They are natively equipped with 64GB eMMC flash memory chips. In theory, there should be no large-scale cause due to this chip. The black screen of death problem.

However, in fact, the Model 3 model we mentioned earlier is a new generation of MCU hardware for the whole series. The time when a large-scale and multi-frequency black screen of death occurred in China was the year 2019 when Model 3 was just delivered. In the following years, with the continuous upgrade and optimization of vehicle OTA, many car owners reported that the black screen problem has become relatively rare.

As far as my personal Model 3 car experience is concerned, the current frequency of black screens is about 1-3 times a year. Therefore, the reason for the black screen on the new generation of MCUs can basically be ruled out due to the black screen problem caused by the expiration of the eMMC life. So what is the real reason? Unknown.

■How does a black screen affect safety?

I believe many people have experienced the process of cell phone crashes. First, the screen freezes, the screen does not move, and the touch fails. Then the screen suddenly goes black and nothing is displayed. Then the screen usually displays the brand LOGO, which means that the car is restarting. Finally, the screen finally returned to the main interface and can be used normally.

The black screen of car and car machine basically conforms to this process. However, since the car machine system of today's car is also in charge of basic functions such as air conditioning, audio, panoramic image, and vehicle status display, once it fails, it will affect the use of these functions. There is a security risk. So, what are the security risks? NHTSA listed the following three security risks in response to the black screen of death of Tesla Model S/X.

First of all, when the car machine is black, the car's reversing image function cannot be used. There is a large blind spot in the driver's observation alone, so there is a safety risk. (Note: The U.S. began on May 1, 2018, compelling all vehicles to install reversing images to avoid safety risks.)

Secondly, during the black screen of the vehicle system, the vehicle’s air conditioning control function and the front and rear windshield defogging and defrosting functions cannot be used. Therefore, in bad weather, these functions may not be turned on, which may affect the driver’s vision, thereby Bring safety hazards. Although Tesla later introduced a new OTA system to automatically activate the front and rear windshield defogging when the black screen crashes, in the view of NHTSA, this is only a temporary emergency solution and cannot completely eliminate safety hazards.

Thirdly, during the period of black screen and crash, because the screen and audio system are not working, driving safety sounds such as collision warning, lane departure warning and other driving safety sounds, screen prompts, and turn signal prompts cannot be emitted. The speed of the car on the driving instrument , Vehicle status warning lights and other screen information cannot be displayed, resulting in drivers not being able to understand the vehicle status in time, increasing the risk of accidents.

It is precisely because of the above three safety risks that finally prompted NHTSA to issue a letter suggesting a recall. In the letter, NHTSA even listed the recall precedents triggered by various car companies in history due to the same safety issues under each safety risk, and each issue is not less than 9 cases.

■Why didn’t Tesla recall the black screen immediately when it discovered the black screen?

This principle is the same as when everyone buys mobile phones or computers out of warranty and frequently crashes, they need to pay to replace the motherboard or other parts. The repair method is to replace the MCU of the car with a new 64GB eMMC with a larger capacity (this is also the case for this recall of Tesla, but it is free).

However, the crux of the question is, does this black screen of death affect the personal safety of the occupants in the car? If it is affected, then according to relevant policy requirements, car companies must recall, regardless of whether the defective parts have passed the warranty . Obviously, Tesla does not agree with NHTSA's view on whether there is a safety hazard.

According to media reports, Tesla is actually resistant to this recall. After all, once it is recalled, it will have to bear the maintenance costs of hundreds of thousands of vehicles. It was not until the NHTSA issued the “Ultimatum” that Tesla was forced to do so. In Tesla's view, it is not certain whether this issue has affected the safety of the occupants.

Tesla stated that if the vehicle in question uses 2020.48.12 or a newer version of the car and machine system, even if the eMMC malfunctions and causes the machine to crash, the reversing image can be used normally, and the turn signal will work normally (but it did not say that when the machine crashes, Whether the steering sound can be heard in the car), and the windshield's defrosting and defogging functions will be automatically turned on, and the temperature is set to 22 degrees.

Before NHTSA issued a letter suggesting a recall, it has been understood that Tesla has carried out OTA upgrades many times to solve these safety issues, but it believes that these measures are “procedural” and have not solved the short life of eMMC. The real problem of the black screen of death.

In China, Tesla also filed a recall plan with the State Administration of Market Supervision and Administration on February 5, half a month after releasing the recall information in the United States, including 20,428 Model S and 15,698 Model X, and the reason for the recall The reasons announced by NHTSA are almost completely consistent.

■What needs to be done by the affected car owners?

Mr. Tesla Model S car advocate told us that the official after-sales staff told him that due to the current shortage of chip production caused by the epidemic, the progress of eMMC replacement is relatively slow. Unless the car owner encounters the severe situation of frequent crashes, he can take the initiative to contact Tesla for priority replacement of eMMC. Other car owners need to wait for Tesla's notification and queue for replacement.

According to another Model S owner who has just replaced the eMMC, the smoothness of the car has been significantly improved, and the black screen of death problem has not yet appeared. But it needs to be pointed out that there are more Model S/X car owners who have not been able to replace eMMC and there is no accurate time point. Many car owners confided to us helplessly. They learned from the grapevine that the weekly supply of eMMC chips at each after-sales point of Tesla may only be 5. According to the current progress, it is estimated that they will wait when their vehicle breaks down. It's not the day when the chip is changed.

■Ending: This is not a problem with the Tesla family

Today, we focused on talking about Tesla’s black screen problem, but as mentioned at the beginning of the article, this problem actually appears in many car companies’ products. With more and more smart cars in the future, the size of the central control screen is larger, and the integrated functions are more. Complex system design will inevitably make the black screen crash problem more likely to occur. Therefore, we call on the industry to pay attention to the black screen problem of smart cars, and the follow-up Autohome will also conduct a more in-depth analysis and discussion on these problems. Regarding the black screen of the car, do you have similar experiences? May wish to share your experience with us in the comments section below. (Picture / Hu Yongbin, Home of the Car)