Third Tesla Fire: Will Feds Investigate?

One safety advocate says NHTSA must take a look

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 7, 2013 4:27 PM CST

(Newser) – This would qualify as a bad day for Elon Musk and his Tesla Motors. The electric-car company got a spate of bad publicity after reports emerged of a third car fire in six weeks, reports Reuters. The company's stock slid nearly 8% on the news, which wasn't helped by a negative national review at Edmunds, notes the LA Times. As for the fire: The driver of a Model S in Tennessee ran over a tow hitch on an interstate, and the resulting damage to the undercarriage led to the fire. The driver pulled over and escaped unhurt.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “absolutely has to investigate," the director of an auto safety group tells Bloomberg. “It appears there’s inadequate shielding on the bottom of these vehicles." The negative review, meanwhile, complained that the Model S tested was “making an ominous noise under acceleration and deceleration. It originates from the rear of the car and seems to be getting worse.” Tesla then replaced the drive unit on the vehicle, along with a mechanism on the driver-side door. "We're not sure what to think about the fact that both of these repairs were completed with just one overnight stay,” says an Edmunds official. “Maybe the dealer is really on the ball. Maybe the supply chain is short. Or maybe the parts are readily available because they've seen these before.”

In this photo provided by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, emergency workers respond to a fire on a Tesla Model S electric car in Smyrna, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Tennessee Highway Patrol)
In this photo provided by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, emergency workers respond to a fire on a Tesla Model S electric car in Smyrna, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Tennessee Highway Patrol)
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