National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Investigate Tesla Model S

Following several reported fires with the vehicle, the agency reportedly will be investigating the safety of the car.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be investigating the safety of the Tesla Model S, according to a report published by The New York Times. According to the article, three fires in the cars have been recorded, two of which were caused by a defective lithium-ion battery pack.

The car originally received top safety reviews from regulators and publications. The article indicated the fires occurred when the car's lithium-ion cells are punctured in a collision. The three fires have occurred during the past two months, two in the United States and one in Mexico. The investigation could take months to complete and mighty include repeat crash tests of the vehicles that are "well beyond the ordinary government testing done on cars before introduction," according to article.

Elon Musk, chairman, product architect, and CEO of Tesla, has written about the fires on his company's blog, including a Nov. 18 post that included a section titled "How Does the Tesla Model S Fire Risk Compare to Gasoline Cars?"

"Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data)," he wrote. "However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined. The media coverage of Model S fires vs. gasoline car fires is disproportionate by several orders of magnitude, despite the latter actually being far more deadly.

"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.

"Journalists with a deep knowledge of the car industry, such as the news editor of Automotive News, understand and attempt to rebut this notion, but they have been drowned out by an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false. I would also like to express appreciation for the investigative journalists who took the time to research and write an accurate article," Musk wrote.

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