The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially announced an investigation to determine just how safe the Tesla Model S electric car is. This announcement comes as a result of two recent reports of the car’s battery catching fire after hitting debris in the road.
In each of the accidents, one in Washington and the other in Tennessee, both cars’ struck some kind of metal object left in the road and the object pierced the undercarriage and penetrated right through to the vehicles’ battery, which then ignited.
The two vehicles that caught fire had battery monitoring systems which alerted the drivers that something was wrong and both drivers were able to escape the fires safely. No injuries were reported. There is also a report of a third vehicle which caught fire, in Mexico, as a result of an accident. There were no injuries reported in that incident either.
The design of the car may have been a contributor to the fires. The car sits approximately six inches off the ground and it actually lowers itself one more inch when the vehicle hits highway speeds. The battery is in a compartment that is located on the passenger’s side and wrapped by a protective shield made of metal.
Right before the NHTSA’s announced they were launching the probe, Elon Musk, who is the CEO of Tesla, issued an announcement of his own. In the company’s blog, Musk said he had requested that the NHTSA “conduct a full investigation as soon as possible into the fires.” He also wrote that the company was implementing a higher ground clearance on the cars in order to help minimize the risk of striking road objects that would rupture the battery and start a fire. He also said the vehicle warranty would now include covering any damage from fires.
It seems that every other week there is another announcement of recalls or investigations regarding dangerous or defective vehicles. If you have been injured in an accident which was caused by a defective vehicle, contact a New Braunfels personal injury lawyer to find out what compensation you may be entitled to.