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Billionaire Elon Musk has a point in complaining about the word "recall" being used to describe fixes to Tesla Motors Inc.

's Model S, said David Strickland, who left last week as the top U.S. auto-safety regulator.

Tesla's ability to make safety changes to the plug-in electric vehicle through over-the-air software updates, the basis for Musk's objection, is "precedent-setting" for regulators, said Strickland, who will begin next week as a partner at law firm Venable LLP.

"As much as Tesla disagrees and Elon disagrees with the characterization of a recall, I would have to say he's partially right there," Strickland said about Tesla's CEO in an interview Tuesday. "What people think of in terms of a recall is you get a letter from the manufacturer to bring your car in to the dealership."




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