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The birth of your firstborn. Baby's first steps. High school graduation. Every parent marks the milestones as their child walks the road to adulthood. So today, let's all sign a congratulations card and mail it to Elon Musk, founding "father" of electric car pioneer Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA ) :
"Congratulations, Dad! It's a recall!"
They grow up so fast
On Friday, Tesla Motors announced that a faulty cable installed in its second-generation Roadster 2.0 and 2.5 presents a potential fire risk if rubbed the wrong way. Just to be safe, the company's initiating a recall of 36% of the cars it has produced to date.
Granted, at a grand total of 439 vehicles affected (out of a bit more than 1,300 produced), this recall pales when compared with, say, the 33,700 Transit Connect vans Ford (NYSE: F ) had to recall over the summer. Or the nearly 400,000 Honda (NYSE: HMC ) Accords, Civics, and Elements recalled in August, the more-than-half-million Nissans that got zapped earlier this year, or the 5 million repairs Toyota (NYSE: TM ) has performed so far in its unintended acceleration fiasco.
For that matter, even Garmin's (Nasdaq: GRMN ) recall of faulty GPS units last month probably dwarfs Tesla's news in the scale of inconvenience caused to American drivers. Regardless, for Tesla it's a bar mitzvah of sorts -- its first recall as a publicly traded company. (Tesla was still private when it conducted a smaller recall in 2009, and insulated from the scrutiny that attaches to publicly traded firms, so it gets a mulligan on that one.)
Is that a silver lining?
Tongue removed from cheek now, though, there is true good news here for Tesla as well. If all goes according to plan, the company will produce tens of thousands of Model S electric cars in just a few years. Recalling and replacing 36% of that larger product line would be a major headache for Tesla. So in a way, it's probably "lucky" that Tesla gets to cut its teeth on a more manageable recall exercise like this one.
Because, folks, recalls happen to the best of companies. They're going to happen to Tesla, too. Baby's gotta learn to walk sometime, and it's best to learn while small, while Tesla's got a shorter distance to fall.
Will Tesla find its footing after the recall, or has it "fallen and can't get up?" You tell me, in the comments section below.