Tesla Model S battery fire inquiry closed by NHTSA: Electric luxury sedan gets new titanium underbody shield to protect batteries

By: Gabe Nelson, Automotive News on 3/28/2014

The National Highway Targeted traffic Safety Administration explained it closed a 3-month-lengthy investigation of fires in the Tesla Model S this week, as Tesla announced a layout change to much better shield the electric car’;s batteries.

Tesla Motors Inc. said nowadays it has began constructing the Model S with a titanium underbody shield to avoid battery fires like the 2 that occurred in the United States final year when Model S drivers struck street debris.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the design change in an write-up on the World wide web website Medium.com, saying that all Model S autos built right after March 5 have the shield. Owners of vehicles created prior to that date may have the shield added upon request.

Hitting street debris is inevitable, NHTSA paperwork say. By raising the car’;s trip height by way of a software program improve last fall, and adding the titanium shield, Tesla diminished the likelihood and danger of such a strike, the company concluded.

The agency’;s defect investigation office “believes impacts with street debris are normal and foreseeable,” the documents say. “In this case, Tesla’;s revision of motor vehicle trip height and addition of elevated underbody safety need to reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk. A defect trend has not been identified. Accordingly, the investigation is closed.”

Musk had vigorously defended the security of the Model S final yr, even right after regulators opened their formal investigation in November. In today’;s post, he said the alter would have worth, by “minimizing owner inconvenience in the event of an impact and addressing any lingering public misperception about electric vehicle security.”

“With a track record of zero deaths or severe, long term injuries given that our automobiles went into manufacturing 6 years in the past, there is no safer automobile on the street than a Tesla,” Musk wrote. “The addition of the underbody shields basically will take it a step even more.”

The report, NHTSA closes Tesla fire inquiry as Model S gets new battery shield originally appeared at Automotive Information.

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