A US government agency said Tuesday it was investigating fires in Tesla electric vehicles, as the company ordered modifications aimed at reducing what it called a negligible risk.
The move by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came after Tesla requested such a probe, saying it wanted to quash any “false perception about the safety of electric cars.”
The NHTSA said in a statement it “has opened a formal investigation to determine if a safety defect exists in certain Tesla Model S vehicles.”
The investigation “was prompted by recent incidents in Washington State and Tennessee that resulted in battery fires due to undercarriage strikes with roadway debris,? according to the statement, emailed to AFP.
Documents posted on the NHTSA website said the agency will “examine the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes.”
Just ahead of the news, Tesla founder Elon Musk said in a blog post that “there is no safer car on the road than the Model S,” but said the company would make changes to reduce fire risk.
“We have rolled out an over-the-air update to the air suspension that will result in greater ground clearance at highway speeds,” Musk said.
“To be clear, this is about reducing the chances of underbody impact damage, not improving safety. The theoretical probability of a fire injury is already vanishingly small and the actual number to date is zero.”
Musk also said he was asking for a “full investigation as soon as possible into the fire incidents” by the US safety agency.
“While we think it is highly unlikely, if something is discovered that would result in a material improvement in occupant fire safety, we will immediately apply that change to new cars and offer it as a free retrofit to all existing cars. ”
He added that “the incidence of fires in the Model S is far lower than combustion cars and that there have been no resulting injuries,” but said such a probe would reassure customers.
“There is a larger issue at stake: if a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences worldwide,” Musk wrote.
Musk also said that “to reinforce how strongly we feel about the low risk of fire in our cars, we will be amending our warranty policy to cover damage due to a fire, even if due to driver error.”
This will be valid “unless a Model S owner actively tries to destroy the car,” he said.
Tesla — whose $75,000 marquee model has been wildly successful, prompting a runup in its share price — has seen its image hurt by a video of one of the vehicles going up in flames on a street near Seattle, Washington.
Another fire was reported by a Tesla owner in Tennessee.
Tesla, created in 2003 by Elon Musk, a co-founder of PayPal and SpaceX, saw its stock price surge earlier this year to give it a market value of more than $20 billion.
The stock has skidded by some 30 percent from its highs. On Tuesday, Tesla traded up 3.7 percent at $126.09.
Deutsche Bank analyst Dan Galves maintained a positive outlook on Tesla, saying he believed the company will not be seriously impacted by the federal review.
“Tesla has already proposed a remedy,” Galves said in a note to clients.
“This is a typical automaker strategy to pre-empt a proposed NHTSA solution by proposing its own solution. This remedy would be very benign in terms of production disruption and cost.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
Atlanta mayor urges violent protesters to ‘go home’
ATLANTA — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had a blunt message to protesters who turned the streets of downtown Atlanta into scenes of violence and destruction late Friday: “Go home.”In an emotional news conference, flanked by hip-hop stars and civil rights leaders, the mayor said that demonstrators outraged at systemic racism and police violence are defying the city’s legacy of nonviolent protest by destroying police cars and smashing windows.“This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos,” she said. “A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, ... (more…)
‘Brutal and unacceptable’: Calls for arrest of NYPD cop who put woman in the ER during protests
The Speaker of the New York City Council is demanding accountability for a NYPD officer caught on tape violently striking a woman during protests of police violence.
Video of the incident appeared on social media on Friday. The video appears to show the cop running up a shoving the woman, launching her off her feet.
She is reportedly now in the ER after suffering a serious seizure.
"This officer needs to be charged with assault," Speaker Cory Johnson posted on Twitter. "Hard to watch. Brutal and unacceptable."
This officer needs to be charged with assault.
‘I’m getting shot’: Shocking video shows police in Louisville hitting journalists with pepper bullets
Police fired pepper bullets at a camera crew doing a live broadcast of the police violence protests in Louisville on Friday evening.
"WAVE 3 News reporter Kaitlin Rust appeared to have been hit by rubber bullets reportedly fired by an LMPD officer during a protest in downtown Louisville," the station reported.
Rust was wearing a fluorescent safety vest at the time of the incident.
"I'm getting shot," she shouted.
The news anchor asked, "who are they aiming that at?"