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Tesla's New Car Is Making Headlines, but Not in Good Way

Pennsylvania driver narrowly escaped his Model S Plaid after it burst into flames, lawyers say
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2021 1:29 PM CDT

(Newser) – A driver's brand-new six-figure Tesla gave him quite the scare this week in Pennsylvania, and his lawyers say he's lucky to be alive. Mark Geragos and Jason Setchen, attorneys said to be representing the owner of the vehicle, a Tesla Model S Plaid, tell the Washington Post their client was driving the electric sedan around 9pm on Tuesday in Haverford when he saw and smelled smoke, then saw flames overtaking the car's cabin. The lawyers say he pulled over and tried to escape, but the vehicle's electronics glitched, rendering the door handles useless. "He was pushing the door frantically and it would not engage," Setchen says, adding that his client was eventually able to get out of the car by throwing his weight against the door until it opened. Per CNBC, the car started moving after the man got out and was subsequently consumed by the fire.

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A Lower Merion Township Fire Department official confirmed it took about two hours to douse the fire. The Verge notes no injuries were reported. According to the man's legal team, he'd received his car just days earlier, among the first batch of Model S Plaid models delivered in June. CNBC notes that deliveries of the new sedan were originally supposed to start in February, but in April, Tesla CEO Elon Musk conceded there were "more challenges than expected" and that "it took quite a bit of development" to ensure the car's battery was safe. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating this incident, the driver's lawyers are calling for Tesla to "sideline" the Model S Plaid, which is available at a base price of $130,000. "Our client was trapped & could have died," a third attorney, Ben Meiselas, wrote on Twitter. (Read more Tesla Model S stories.)

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