Gov’t Safety Agency Launches Investigation of Tesla Electric Car Fires

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 19 2013 6:11 PM

Gov’t Safety Agency Launches Investigation of Tesla Electric Car Fires

187005518
A Tesla Model S car is displayed at a Tesla showroom.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. government announced on Tuesday that it has opened an investigation into recent battery fires in the Tesla Model S electric car. The formal investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes after three car fires in the last six weeks. Two of the fires occurred in the U.S. when the cars hit debris on the highway and the third broke out in Mexico after a car crashed into a wall and a tree at high speed, according to the New York Times. The drivers in all three incidents were not injured.

Tesla’s Model S has been billed by the company as “the safest car in America,” but the N.H.T.S.A. announced the probe amidst concerns that the model poses a fire risk due to the undercarriage of the car striking objects. Ahead of the inquiry, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla is taking steps to reduce fire risk. The changes, according to USA Today, include “higher ground clearance to make them less likely to strike road debris that can potentially penetrate the battery pack and ignite a blaze,” as well as changing the cars’ warranty to include fire damage coverage.

Advertisement

The investigation, according to Bloomberg, is “a possible precursor to a recall” of the more than 19,000 Model S cars on the road. Here’s more on what the investigation could look like, via the New York Times:

A N.H.T.S.A. defect investigation, which can take months to complete, could include crash tests of the vehicle. If a vehicle is determined to have a design defect that poses a safety risk, the government can order the manufacturer to recall cars already on the road and make structural changes. Additionally, regulators can impose fines if a company fails to address the problems.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.