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Government to Investigate Tesla Fires

The rollout of any new product is likely to hit some bumps in the road. For Tesla, the maker of the Tesla Model S electric car, hitting some bumps in the road has led to some highly-publicized fires, and now a federal investigation.

The Tesla Model S. (Tesla Motors)

One of the Model S fires occurred in Tennessee and the other in Washington state.  Both fires happened after the cars hit objects in the road, which pierced the cars’ battery compartments, sparking the fires. No injuries have been reported as a result of the fires. 

The Associated Press reports, “The probe affects more than 13,000 cars from the 2013 model year that were sold in the U.S. Tesla has sold about 19,000 of the cars worldwide.”

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, wrote an extensive post on the company’s blog in response to the fires and the media coverage they’ve received. In it, he says that the risk of a fire in a Tesla is much less than the risk of a fire in a gasoline-powered car. He argues that the Tesla fires have received more coverage than fires in gas-powered cars in the same period. “Reading the headlines, it is therefore easy to assume that the Tesla Model S and perhaps electric cars in general have a greater propensity to catch fire than gasoline cars when nothing could be further from the truth,” Musk writes. 

In response to the fires, however, Musk says that Tesla will be releasing a software update that will make the Model S ride higher, lessening the odds that road debris will come in contact with the car’s undercarriage. Tesla will also be increasing the warranty coverage of the Model S to include fire damage, “even if due to driver error.” Finally, Musk writes that the company requested a NHTSA investigation, though it’s not clear if the current NHTSA investigation is a result of that request.

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